BELLE & SEBASTIAN and PERFUME GENIUS live – photos/review

Belle & Sebastian, photo by Mikala FolbA pretty girl twerking her booty up against Stuart Murdoch’s leg was not one of the things I expected from a Belle & Sebastian gig.

But there she was, one of about a dozen fans, invited to join the band on stage to dance for “The Boy With the Arab Strap” and “Legal Man”, bouncing around all over the place, all willy-nilly. Just like Belle & Sebastian’s set list, one that puh-poinged through their entire lifespan (eschewing Tiger Milk, however) with no discernible pattern.

“Early adolescent” B&S songs from “when we were all sleeping together” and when things were blowing up and it was “like, a fucking song nuclear war” (as Murdoch called it) showed their faces (in one such case with “Simple Things”) backed right up against the dancey new stuff off of Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance (“The Power of Three”, “Perfect Couples” and “Nobody’s Empire”, giving Stevie Jackson and Sarah Martin a chance on lead).

Nobody minded the disorganization, though, oh no. It’d been 7 years since B&S had played Vancouver, and both fans and band were in a good mood. There were 10 band folk up on stage (augmented by a horn section from Seattle, two keyboard/pianist/cellist players, plus a very nice posh lady talking at us from a screen draped behind it all). And then there were the gleeful fans. And me, shaking my head all confused like a grandma, wondering how the hell these KIDS THESE DAYS have even heard of the band. I bought Arab Strab when it came out, goddammit, you were in diapers! Maybe it was through MTV? Possibly, since a fan on stage requested “We are the Sleepyheads” – a track used as a bumper on the music channel, which made an appearance in the encore before a head-bobby “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying” to close out the show.

Regardless, it was a sweet dreams are made of this setlist for the B&S fans-for-lifers. The songs were delivered with humour, warmth and a few dance-like-yer-dad moves or Elton-John-ing at the piano.

Murdoch chattered and nattered good-naturedly, climbing down into the crowd to provide hugs and high-fives, ask them what they liked best about living here, or to sing a very intimate “Piazza, New York Catcher” leading into a “San Francisco is calling” singalong. He went on a tangent about how “I do like spring and the smell of freshly cut grass, uh, wafting up onto the stage” then babbled on about a big magazine had offered them a chance to get high for a photoshoot to sit “with a big bag of grass…And I don’t even do it anymore!” while the rest of the band looked on bemused  He also talked about how he was feeling rubbery from a massages he and Sarah had earlier in the day, before hammering out a song on the ol’ keytar.

As for Perfume Genius – aka Mike Hadreas – he started things off gloriously in fishnets, heels, lipstick and with soaring, aching or tender voice. Slinking around the stage like a cat, or bending his spaghetti legs (joking about how he’d fallen over on stage previously from doing his live “squats”) as he screamed, he ushered in passion and sprit .  Starting with “My Body” and weaving in a stellar “My Body’s In Trouble” by Mary Margaret O’Hara the set had lots of body. And soul.

Yes, it was definitely warm in the Vogue Theatre – the cozy kind. I wasn’t expecting the show to be so tenderhearted and chatty, and I was expecting twee, not twerking, but it was all there. And it was so good. \m/

Click on the images to embiggen and scroll through and see more than just torsos and legs.

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