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The Latest Review: Belle & Sebastian, QMU Glasgow, 8/3/1997
Going to this gig was an accident, but it would completely change me life.
My friend Gary had lent me a tape of Adventures In Stereo and, as I'd liked it so much, suggested I join a group of people making the long trek up from Leicester to Glasgow to see them supporting Belle & Sebastian. Usually I wouldn't have bothered, but I really did like the tape and I'd heard the main band on Steve Lamacq a couple of times, so said yes. Looking back it was as if the very GODS OF ROCK were guiding me. Or, at the very least, Bass Breweries.
When we got to Glasgow I spent the day wandering around with some locals who I'd got to know though a brand new technological wonder device called "the internet". We'd never met before in real life and were terribly excited about how modern we were being, so celebrated by getting hopelessly paralytically drunk. This, added to the dazzling array of Indie Celebrities on display when we arrived at the venue (the bloke from The Blue Bells! One of Teenage Fanclub!) meant that I forgot to go in to watch the band I'd travelled 299 miles to see, staggering in just in time for the headliners.
As soon as they came on stage I was THEIRS. Maybe it was all the beer swilling around me, maybe it was the excitable crowd, or maybe it was SPACE MAGIC, but from the start every song, every single note, was PERFECT. Everything they played was exactly the RIGHT thing to play, unimprovable and wonderful. Some of the tunes were familiar (they did a MAJESTIC version of 'Reel Around The Fountain'), some were utterly new and utterly amazing to me, but everything was just RIGHT. I'd never heard a band play so perfectly before, especially doing this kind of music. I'd seen many - TOO MANY - bands trying to play twee, wistful music and coming across as Walter The Softy And The Smug Gits, but THIS was just beautiful. I felt like cheering and crying and leaping up and down. In all the beer and confusion I'd got myself separated from my friends, so had to turn to a group of Goths stood next to me and say "I'm sorry, I don't know you, but I've got to tell somebody: this lot are FUCKING AMAZING!"
Rather than FLEE they all turned round to agree with me, GRINNING like LOONIES and NODDING like KRAZIES. When the gig was over, far far too soon, I ran around the room finding my friends who were also jumping up and down in amazement. I was so excited that I bought a gigantic poster and, when I saw the lead singer, Stuart Murdoch, going to the bar I rolled it up, bonked him playfully on the head with it and, as he stood stunned, gave him a HUGE MANLY HUG.
He didn't seem too pleased.
When we got home we all either joined new bands or got our old ones going again. At least three new record labels were formed, several festivals and many many gigs were organised, and we spent the next several years energised and excited by what we'd seen. Subsequent Belle & Sebastian gigs were never as good - in fact, they were nearly all absolutely awful - but that night in Glasgow had been our own version of The Sex Pistols at The Free Trade Hall. Nothing would ever be the same afterwards.
And I've still never managed to see Adventures In Stereo.
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