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Belle & SebastianTwerps

The Astor Theatre

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Melbourne four-piece Twerps are the first Australian band to be crowned with a record deal from Merge Records and they wore the honour well. They proved to be the perfect opener with the majority of punters getting down early to see the group who looked as though they would have been able to populate the Astor all on their own. The jangle of tunes like I Don’t Mind were the prefect blend of Yo La Tengo and the nights headliner that went down a treat. Led by the dual vocalists of Martin Frawley and Julia McFarlane, the four piece were huddled in close together on the stage letting their songs speak for themselves. If the amount of shirts being purchased at the merch table at the end of the evening was an indicator, Twerps didn’t put a foot wrong.

Belle & Sebastian are thought of as the youthful, cardigan-wearing chaps who won over punters with some light guitars and soft vocals. The band that arrived on stage are showing signs of age for the first time, but with this experience comes the comfort of being gig-hardened. The days when Belle & Sebastian shows were said to be hit and miss are long gone and have been replaced by a band who are well in control of their instruments so much that they vary the set list significantly each night.

The Everlasting Muse was a relatively low-key start in spite of members of the WA Symphony Orchestra providing band claps and Stevie Jackson (who looks more like Geoffrey Rush with each passing year) offering tuneful mandolin. The breezy Belle & Sebastian reared their head soon after with better known tunes Another Sunny Day and the irresistible Funny Little Frog.

Stuart Murdoch is spending a lot more time behind the keyboards these days which makes for a more reflective set. Luckily the band are armed with intimate gems like A Century Of Fakers that can be slotted amongst toe tapping winners like Wrapped Up In Books. Regardless of the tune Richard Colburn has developed into a deft skins-man who caresses his kit rather that hits it.

Latest album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance is a change in direction for the Scots, who are more beat-focused during this phase. Stevie Jackson took a lead role on the microphone for the bongo-infused Perfect Couples that although not being anywhere near the nights brightest moment (being more suited to a cruise ship that a gig), it may find a place in people’s hearts somewhere next to the Beach Boys’ Kokomo.

Sarah Martin got to sing her way through Power Of Three as the strings came to fore, whilst Murdoch embraced the new direction with his signature camp dancing during current single The Party Line. While the newer tunes were a sign of Belle & Sebastian being able to party with the best of them, it was the stripped back version of Piazza, New York Catcher that was far and away the highlight.

Members of the crowd were invited to stand among the band for the customary ‘dance along’ to The Boy With The Arab Strap. The stage was filled with its usual array of women with rhythm stationed amongst people with no sense of rhythm but plenty of enthusiasm. The crowd maintained their dancing shoes for Sleep The Clock Around before the eight-piece bid people adieu

In what was a surprise to even some of the band members, Expectations from their debut was the encore, with Murdoch expressing that he hoped that the trumpet player would know how to play it. It was a final display that a Belle & Sebastian set often contains a few hits and many surprises. They are the Forrest Gump of indie for sure.



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