Belle and Sebastian's Philly love affair is strong as ever at Union Transfer - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Since 1998’s ill-fated Trocadero show that resulted in broken indie hearts, Philly has loved Belle and Sebastian unconditionally — and the feeling is mutual.

When the band finally did play their first local gig in 2002 at the Tower Theater, they brought boxes of shirts emblazoned with the words “I’m a Philly Survivor, Love B&S” and dutifully handed them out to the fans to apologize. Every time they have come to our fair city since, they’ve continued to pay tribute to Philly, whether starting the show with the Rocky fanfare, walking out on stage to the opening of Trading Places projected in the background, or like last night, telling a hilarious story of Rittenhouse Square quirkiness resulting in a sing along to The Zombies’ “Time of the Season.”

Belle and Sebastian | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Belle and Sebastian also did what they do best: play incredible tunes. The band opened with the befitting “Nobody’s Empire,” answered by the uplifting “Allie,” and my personal favorite from the latest Late Developers, the Stevie Jackson-led “So in the Moment.” The evening continued with a mix that was familiar (of course they did “Piazza, New York Catcher” and “Another Sunny Day”) and downright surprising (“Your Cover’s Blown”??? “Fox in the Snow”??? Motherfreaking “Photo Jenny”???!!!).

Of course a Belle and Sebastian concert wouldn’t be complete without an onstage dance party and last night’s was a corker.  Seeing so many people of all ages dancing and singing so happily to the infectious “Boy With the Arab Strap” was heartwarming and probably my favorite time witnessing this ritual. And yes, someone was wearing the “I’m a Survivor” shirt — a 15-year-old fan who told Stuart Murdoch (and the crowd) that he got the shirt from his dad, something that seemed to blow the singer’s mind for a moment.

Belle and Sebastian | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Opening the show were the Toronto dream pop outfit The Weather Station, who played a lovely set of cuts from their 2021 record Ignorance as well as as-yet-unreleased material from their album in the works. Frontperson Tamara Lindeman’s haunting voice was bolstered by her bandmates’ dynamic playing, particularly the saxophone shredding by Karen Ng and the understated percussion by PA native Dominic Billet (sporting a Sound Of Philadelphia t-shirt). Friday was their first in a run of dates with Belle and Sebastian that continues tonight at Boston’s Orpheum Theater.

In thinking about all of the times I have seen Belle and Sebastian, every time it’s been associated with seeing them with good friends, dancing like a fool and marveling at how every time, I leave grinning from ear to ear.

Belle and Sebastian
Union Transfer
  • Nobody's Empire
  • Allie
  • So In The Moment
  • Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying
  • Give A Little Time
  • Sukie In The Graveyard
  • Another Sunny Day
  • Piazza, New York Catcher
  • Dress Up In You
  • To Be Myself Completely
  • Time Of The Season
  • Your Cover's Blown
  • The Fox In The Snow
  • Simple Things
  • The Boy With The Arab Strap
  • There's Too Much Love
  • I Didn't See It Coming
  • Photo Jenny
  • Sleep The Clock Around
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