Belle and Sebastian @ The Astor Theatre
w/ Carla Geneve
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Carla Geneve has only spent a relatively short time on the local scene after relocating from Albany, but she is really turning heads. The singer who says she is influenced by folk music, but plays a louder brand of music with her bandmates, has recently been the feature artist on Triple J’s Unearthed and has already signed to a booking agency.
Geneve’s chesty voice and her dynamic guitar playing are seeing her lead the charge of confident young women at the forefront of success. Whether she be covering her close friend Stella Donnelly’s Mechanical Bull, playing a brand new tune (Yesterday’s Clothes) or dispensing with the band to play a solo song, Geneve demands attention. By the time she finished playing recent single Greg’s Discount Chemist, it wasn’t hard to see what all the fuss is about.
With a multimedia presentation being shown on the backdrop of the stage, Belle and Sebastian made their way to their places. Band leader Stuart Murdoch perched behind a Roland as he eased straight into Nobody’s Empire before springing to his feet to emphatically dance his way through the riff heavy I’m A Cuckoo. They had a reputation for their early albums sounding a little thin, but Belle and Sebastian have grown into an impressive live band that always have a bright and crystal clear sound.
The stereotype of the typical Belle And Sebastian fan is that they are bookish and awkward as they stay at home listening to the fey records of their heroes when the weather outside is too hot or too wet for them to leave the house. It is a picture that couldn’t be further from the sense of joy and celebration that is evident at a Belle and Sebastian live show. With this in mind, the band weren’t enforcing people to stay in their seats, suggesting to the crowd that they can get up and dance as it was a “Belle and Sebastian show, so you can do what the fuck you want.”
Perth crowds can be slow to respond, so all stayed seated through Sweet Dew Lee which guitarist Stevie Jackson leads with equal parts guile and gusto, as it sways between a bubblegum pop tune and the Charlie’s Angels theme. By the time Sukie In The Graveyard was rolled out, punters were using the aisles and front of stage as makeshift dance floors. Not to be outdone, Murdoch joined the crowd off stage, before standing on a chair in the front row to dance along to his bandmates.
Murdoch was in a chatty mood throughout and had done a fair amount of research into Perth, yet couldn’t point in the right direction of the Fremantle Doctor much to his chagrin. He regaled all with anecdotes about the WACA, pelicans, bull sharks and trams. The band skipped around their catalogue to play songs that were older than some of the people in attendance (Dylan In The Movies), rarely heard songs (Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John) or shiny new numbers (The Same Star) without losing any flow or coherency.
One of the greatest moments of the night came during The Boy With The Arab Strap, where local radio personality and long time champion of the band Peter Barr joined the obligatory rush onstage to dance next to Murdoch for the duration of the tune.
The glee between parties in this connection between band and audience is what makes Belle And Sebastian such an endearing outfit. The Scottish group’s effort at writing a danceable and upbeat tune in the form of The Party Line, came across as closer to a Eurovision entry and a club filling banger. Things concluded when the band heeded a request for The State I Am In, but by that stage could could have played anything they liked as no one was leaving this show disappointed.
Photos by Karen Lowe