The irresistible appeal of Belle & Sebastian

We chat to the fiercely loyal fans of their distinctly Glaswegian style of sentimental, cerebral pop

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The irresistible appeal of Belle & Sebastian - As told by the fans

There’s something about the Belle & Sebastian fan that makes them go the extra mile and a half. Avid merch collectors, devoted gig-goers and long-term lovers of their brand of Glasgow pop, in the lull between B&S’ tenth studio album Write About Love and the UK tour to support it, The List asked friends, fans and fellow musicians about their favourite moments of a passionate shared history.

There’s something about the Belle & Sebastian fan that makes them go the extra mile and a half. Avid merch collectors, devoted gig-goers and long-term lovers of their brand of Glasgow pop, in the lull between B&S’ tenth studio album Write About Love and the UK tour to support it, The List asked friends, fans and fellow musicians about their favourite moments of a passionate shared history.

Gavin Dunbar, bassist in Camera Obscura
‘I went to see them in Dunoon [in 2001], and when they struck the first note of “Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie” everyone in the hall was gobsmacked by how amazingly tight it sounded. The audience knew they’d hit the top of their game and were moving on to a whole new level.’

Andrew Symington, promoter of Divine! at Glasgow School of Art and former B&S sleeve designer
‘I’ve known Stuart [Murdoch, lead singer] for years through DJing around Glasgow and his sets were always super-obscure. When he finally got a band together it was just like any other mate’s band, until I got to go and see them play a CMJ gig at a derelict synagogue in New York in 1997. It was the hot ticket of the entire festival, and it finally clicked for me at that show how amazing they are.’

John Hunt, lead singer of Butcher Boy and former promoter of National Pop League
‘The kindness of their music left a huge impression on me – in life as well as music. They made me see the romance in Glasgow even as I was feeling jaded with the place. Stuart used to come to NPL all the time, and I’ve since found out that his taste in music’s quite coincidental to mine.’

Andrew Paterson, lead singer of The Felt Tips
‘It felt rebellious to like them in the late ‘90s because they weren’t doing something macho or brash, which was the style at the time. They were in touch with their softer side. My favourite song is “A Summer Wasting”, it’s so simple but impossible to tire of.’

Ian Watson, promoter of How Does It Feel To Be Loved? indie-pop clubnight in London
‘In the early days there weren’t many records or gigs, so you collected what you could – a tape of Tigermilk here, a handful of shows there. They did a three-date English tour in 1998 and I went to every one. The setlist for the show in Leeds was totally different to the Nottingham one, not a single song repeated. That meant there were a whole load of songs to add to my collection.’

Lynsey Callaghan, co-promoter of Half My Heart Beats indie-pop night at The Flying Duck
‘When a friend gave me a tape of Tigermilk it was a defining moment. Their music was smart; it told a story. Before I’d listened to a lot of male-dominated music, Britpop and the like, but B&S made it seem less intimidating for a smalltown girl to go into record shops and learn about music.’

Robert Winning, from DIY record label, Bubblegum
‘They were the first band since The Smiths to really appeal to a certain type of indie fan. The lyrics of “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” sum that up for me: “Play me a song to set me free / nobody writes them like they used to / so it may as well be me.” I’ll be going to see them at the Barrowlands. Which show? All three, of course.’

Barrowlands, Glasgow, Sun 19–Tue 21 Dec.

Belle & Sebastian - I Didn't See It Coming

Belle & Sebastian

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3. anamechanger19 Dec 2010, 3:46pm Report

I like them too

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