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July 07, 2006

Last night at the Hollywood Bowl, Belle & Sebastian did something we didn't think was possible: they had even more people on stage. Namely the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In what must amount to community outreach for the LA Phil (it's probably better than playing public high schools and senior citizen brunches), they backed Glasgow's darlings on songs spanning from If You're Feeling Sinister to last year's The Life Pursuit. Letting the crowd digest their wine, picnic dinners and openers the Shins, the first hour of the show felt overly polite. Though B&S did their usual charming routine, having an orchestra behind them did not make the sound epic, sweeping, ethereal or any of the other cliché, but honest, adjectives used when describing what happens when bands are backed by orchestras. There were engaging moments in the early parts—like the slinky "Don't Leave The Light On Baby" and when they brought an excitable woman from the audience named either "BEBE BEEOTCH!" or "BABY BEEOTCH!" on stage to dance during "Jonathan David"—but it wasn't until they picked up the tempo with "Your Cover's Blown" that people started racing down the stairs to dance in the open spaces. With "I'm A Cuckoo" and "White Collar Boy" they seemed to realize the potential of the power they had in their arsenal, but by the time main frontman Stuart Murdoch jumped up to conduct the final frantic, fantastic moments of "Sleep The Clock Around" the set was over. When they returned to start their encore with "The State I Am In" without the Philharmonic, it was back to normal. Which is great, but still...

Posted: July 07, 2006