Posted in SHOFT on Monday 8th December 2003 at 12:05am

I remember the last time I saw Belle and Sebastian in 1997. We drove up to London to see them at the Shepherds Bush Empire after work. The new record had been released that morning, so we listenen to a hastily taped copy of 'The Boy With The Arab Strap' for the first time in the car, thinking how fantastic it was. As it turned out, they were pretty bad that night - they took a long time to come on stage, were incredibly quiet, and the pauses were longer than the songs. I wouldn't have admitted it at the time, but my heroes had disappointed me. I made lots of excuses for them - in a way it was fitting that they weren't so good live.

How different tonight then. After padding endlessly around a frozen and busy Bath (never my favourite city), into the Pavillions, with few expectations - but happy to be seeing some live music after a long break. A cavernous room with a floor sprung for ballroom dancing it seems. Beer sold by the can. A no-nonsense venue.

Between acts, I bumped into some expat-Burnhamites, including Messrs. Ponter, Orledge and Rowden. In fact, Steve has asked me to make a special mention of him here - in fact, will this do? Quite glad to see some familiar faces, because I was beginning to feel a bit old and redundant.

Overall, I think this was the best show I've seen in years - the band were great - best of all, they were audible. Loud even. The sound was great. Even the inevitable between-song-pause problem of a band of multi-instrumentalists wasn't as bad, with some confidently chipper banter between stage and audience.

Most of the new record was played, along with some wonderful oldies and even the odd obscure B-side ('Photo Jenny' anyone?), a very good Rolling Stones cover, and Stevie Jackson's 'Travellin' Light' (familiar to people who heard DCW before it was released). A long set, confidently delivered and full of a drive I'd never seen the band display before.

Promise I'll try to remember the set-list which I forgot to write down as it happened. Highlights for me were a beautifully orchestrated 'Dirty Dream #2' and 'If You Find Yourself Caught in Love', and a storming 'Sleep the Clock Around' which closed the main set.

Thanks for the lift back Chris! Otherwise, I'd still be freezing at Bath Spa station.



I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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