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Arts and Entertainment

Concert Review: Belle & Sebastian w/ LA Phil @ Hollywood Bowl 7/6/06

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photo of Belle and Sebastian with the LA Philharmonic by chotda

Slowly creeping my way down Highland Boulevard in some of the worst LA traffic I've ever experienced, almost completely surrounded by my soon-to-be fellow audience members, I was mentally preparing myself for a night consisting of sweet little diddies and teen misfit anthems from not only Belle and Sebastian, but Belle and Sebastian backed by the LA Philharmonic, with The Shins opening for them. Add in some red wine and fancy cheese along with the scenery of the Hollywood Hills, and there's not much more you can ask for on a summer night in Los Angeles.

Although I attempted to conquer the traffic and make it to the Hollywood Bowl on time by sneaking out of work an hour early and skipping dinner, unfortunately, my effort was defeated, and I was only able to catch the last two songs of The Shins. Unlike many live music venues I've experienced, I guess the Hollywood Bowl means business when they say show begins at 7:30. Oh well. Not surprisingly, The Shins saved their two most popular songs for the end of their set. "Caring is Creepy" and "New Slang" appeased indie rockers and Garden State fans alike, and was a satisfying beginning to the night.

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Belle and Sebastian has been one of my favorite bands for years, but I was honestly hesitant about seeing them this time, one, because the venue was so huge, and two, because I haven't been the biggest fan of their newer albums. But, because B&S "got me through it," ("it" meaning teen angst, breakups, self reflection, etc. etc.) I felt like I owed them something; definitely a good choice. This was by far the best time I've ever seen them, in the most fitting environment. Just watching Stuart Murdoch skip around the stage was worth it alone. What a charming, witty Scottish gentleman. At one point near the end of the show, fans in the front rows rushed the stage just to join him for a dance; totally surreal for such a huge concert venue with such a tame lineup.

Although the band usually consists of at least thirteen members, the fact that Belle and Sebastian was accompanied by the LA Philharmonic allowed their live performance to finally achieve the full orchestral sound heard on their studio albums. Of course they played a bunch of songs off their newest album "The Life Pursuit," but they also kept it real with old school hits from "Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like a Peasant," and "Boy with the Arab Strap." Watching "Don't Leave the Light on Baby," "La Pastie de la Bourgeoisie," and "Sleep the Clock Around" being performed live by such a wide variety of instruments gave me the satisfaction of seeing Belle and Sebastian the way I've always wanted to see them: in the mountains, surrounded by good people, a wee bit drunk, with that warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside.