Seeing Belle & Sebastian is always noteworthy, as they're the wife's favorite band (as well as one of mine), a band we've traveled to different states and countries in order to see them perform live. But not since our days in the Bay Area have we been able to see them where we live, and that made this gig particularly special. They performed at the outdoors amphitheater at the North Carolina Museum of Art - I'd never seen a band play here before, and as always I was skeptical of an outdoor show as the sound is usually garbage, and summer weather in the south isn't the most conducive to standing in a crowd. This place is great though - the sound was excellent, the sold out show was full without being packed, and by sheer dumb luck that almost never happens around here in July, the weather was perfection - low humidity and not too hot. Perhaps best of all, there is a general admission standing area right in front of the stage, leading to us getting the closest we've ever gotten to B&S live.
Enough logistics though, how was the actual show? Great, obviously...like it's even possible for them to have a bad performance (I may be slightly biased here)! No string section this time, but they did have a local dude playing the various trumpet parts (they typically recruit local folks for this role to cut down on touring costs, plus it's gotta be a hoot for whoever gets to be in the band for a day). As always they played plenty of hits ("The Boy with the Arab Strap," "I'm a Cuckoo," etc); they also performed a couple of new ones, including the (supposedly) live debut of their new single "We Were Beautiful." The real story of this particular gig was how many older deep cuts were on the set list...hell, they played five or so tracks from "The Life Pursuit," probably more than they did when they were actually touring to support that record. And they didn't even manage to play "Funny Little Frog," the one song from that record they play all the time! You can see the full set list here, but it's impressive the number of songs they haven't played at all in the last decade, or only a handful of times.
So, a damn fine time was had by all. Hopefully the turnout and the enthusiasm the Triangle showed Belle & Sebastian will translate in them playing again here the next time they tour the States...or at least within driving distance!