Gig review: Belle & Sebastian for Save the Children, Glasgow

FIONA SHEPHERD reviews a Belle & Sebastian-curated charity gig at Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow, also headlined by Young Fathers, Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and Josie Long

Belle & Sebastian
Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian for Save the Children | Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow | Rating: ****

As with everything Belle & Sebastian touch, there was an idiosyncratic character to this big name charity bash, featuring a formidable line-up of cross-generational Scottish talent raising funds for and awareness of Save the Children’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal.

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Stuart Murdoch opened proceedings not with a stirring appeal to hearts, minds and wallets, but with a too-much-information intro concerning his young son’s toileting and Young Fathers’ pre-performance preparations before the Mercury Music Prize-winning trio hit the stage with ferocious intent, oblivious to the possibility that this grey auditorium might not be their natural gig environment.

Their intense assault of tribal drums, quaking bass, punky declaiming and disorientating searchlights was tempered with some soulful melodies and raw harmony singing. Graham ‘G’ Hastings succeeded in manipulating the crowd on to their feet with a rather menacing appeal to “clap your hands if Glasgow welcomes migrants” delivered in the least Bono-like manner possible.

Comedian Josie Long provided the light relief with some mild political comedy comment during the band changeover before Mogwai’s initially sit-back-and-relax set, which lulled the audience with lovely plangent piano from Barry Burns and Stuart Braithwaite’s tender tenor on Cody, then turned the amps up some way past eleven and pummelled the room slowly and balletically into submission.

Franz Ferdinand were last seen round these parts in glorious collaboration with Sparks as FFS, and haven’t quite regained their innate swaggering form as a four-piece. Their trim 40-minute set was merely great, featuring high-kicking album gems such as Bullet, No You Girls and Tell Her Tonight beside toppermost singles Matinee, Do You Want To and the immortal Take Me Out, which provoked pogoing in the aisles.

Still, the atmosphere remained subdued, respectful and decorous as headliners Belle & Sebastian took the stage and settled into the sweetness of Seeing Other People and I Didn’t See It Coming before Murdoch went walkabout in the crowd to find a dance partner for Sukie in the Graveyard and unleashed the usual tension between health and safety stewards and fans who just wanna have fun, especially to a track as funky as Perfect Couples.

Winsome oldies Stars of Track and Field and Judy and the Dream of Horses hit the spot for fans old and new, and then it was time for the unlikely special guests, Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill of Simple Minds. In many respects, the Minds’ arena-ready bombast is the antithesis of Belle & Sebastian’s championing of the shy outsider, but Murdoch is clearly a man of taste, presiding over the collaboration with obvious pleasure.

Kerr instinctively turned on the stadium moves, pressing the flesh with the enthusiastic fans at the front as they tore through renditions of Minds’ hits Promised You a Miracle and Don’t You (Forget About Me). Burchill riffed majestically, while Belles’ keyboard player Chris Geddes relished the mighty synth chords, and the chest-beating spirit of Live Aid was awoken for just a moment.