Live @ 40 Watt, Athens, Georgia
By: Eric G.
Living up to its elusive and coy reputation, Scotland's Belle & Sebastian
only played a handful of dates in the United States in support of its third
album, The Boy With The Arab Strap. The only date in the South was at the
40 Watt in Athens, so you could imagine how packed it was from all of the
road trips made by fans from nearby states (some came from as far away as
The band hit the stage around midnight opening with "Is It Wicked Not To
Care?" off the new record. Isobel Campbell's girlish and treacly voice was
more entreating live than on record. The band somehow captured the
intimacy and charm of its sound live. I must admit I was expecting a
somewhat amateurish performance given the delicacy of the music and based
on reviews of some of their British shows, but, surprisingly, the band was
confidant and practically note for note perfection.
The Boy With the Arab Strap comprised the bulk of the band's far too short
set. The band did play a smattering of songs off the three singles put out
last year, including "Photo Jenny" and "A Century Of Elvis", but, sadly,
only one song off If You're Feeling Sinister, "Mayfly." Stuart Murdoch's
angelic voice soared in the smoky bar, especially on "Ease Your Feet In The
Sea" and a rocking version of "Simple Things." The band closed the show
with "Dirty Dream Number Two" and abruptly left the stage not to return.
No one dared complain about the brevity of the set as we were lucky to have
seen the band at all.