In the past 22 years, Belle and Sebastian’s well-earned cult success has ballooned to international proportions. What was most pleasing to note here wasn’t just the fact they can still draw a capacity crowd, but that a large proportion of the audience were as young as the band were in 1996.
Belle & Sebastian, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
The group have remained filled with vitality in a manner which echoes singer Stuart Murdoch’s enthusiastically angular dancing, which he demonstrated from atop his piano during the closing The Party Line, a song released in 2015 and which represented a new and entirely comfortable foray into disco-pop.
From the new EP collection How to Solve Our Human Problems, there emerged a similarly pleasing synth-pop sheen to Sweet Dew Lee and a more typically bittersweet edge to I’ll Be Your Pilot.
For a nine-piece band with three frontpeople (violinist Sarah Martin and guitarist Stevie Jackson also took the lead, including the latter’s “ill-advised country rock number”, the very charming The Wrong Girl), it’s the sense of intimacy and connection they encourage which still resonates.
The group bravely took on an audience request of Piazza, New York Catcher, despite not having played it in years.
On the video backdrop, their signature photographic portraits of pasty Glaswegians was added to by multi-racial faces from the new collection’s artwork, an indication that they’re a band who belong in the present.