For the second year in a row we traveled to a foreign country to see our beloved Belle & Sebastian - Montreal last year, and Miami Beach this year. Sure, Miami Beach isn't technically a foreign country but it might as well be - there were certainly more women walking around in thongs than you typically see anywhere else in this country.
Our tickets were general admission so we got there early and got a good spot up front - I've seen B&S many times but always from far away; this time, only one row of people separated us from Stuart Murdoch and company. They were performing as a thirteen piece with the regulars joined by a quartet of violin mercenaries from New York (as both the band and the crowd found out when Stuart talked to them during the set). The band kicked off with the instrumental "Judy Is a Dick Slap," complete with Stuart playing a keytar, and it only got more awesome from there. Lots of classics throughout the set including "I'm a Cuckoo," "Like Dylan in the Movies," "Dog on Wheels," "The Boy With the Arab Strap," "Legal Man," "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying," "Judy & the Dream of Horses," and the always perfect " "If You're Feeling Sinister." According to the band this was their first show ever in Florida, something Stewart joked about on a couple of occasions. Also, unbeknownst to me and probably a lot of the crowd, he is married to a gal from Florida, and told a funny story about his first trip to the state on vacation when some people pulled up next to him on the highway and offered him some Ritz crackers. It was more or less a perfect show, and well worth the cost of airfare and hotel and tickets and whatever else we spent. I mean, the beach was nice too, so that was also a plus.
A brief note about opener Luke Temple - I dug it, but not sure much of the crowd did. He has a really heavy Jonathan Richman vibe - classical guitar, sparse drummer, hell he was even wearing a very Jonathan Richman-like shirt. The vocals sounded more like James Mercer of the Shins though, and the songs had a jazzy-folk-pop thing going on. the crowd was very loud during his set, and as his music was pretty quiet it was pretty awful. He tried saying something to the crowd a couple of times, which has never, ever worked in the history of live performances, they just get indignant at being told what to do. I would check him out again though, hopefully in better environs.