Belle and Sebastian played SummerStage with Los Bitchos (review, setlist, video)
"It feels like Glasgow here!" Stuart Murdoch was commenting on the cool Thursday evening in Central Park, in comparison to the near 100-degree weather they'd just come from in the DC area the day before. There had been threats of rain earlier in the day but it was an indeed perfect night in the park, which is a perfect setting for a crowd-pleasing Belle & Sebastian show like this one.
Though the band just released their best album in a while -- A Bit of Previous -- and four songs from that were played, the SummerStage show felt like a hitfest with classics coming early and throughout, including "The Boy with the Arab Strap" (which for years was their show-closer), "She's Losing It," "Sleep Around the Clock," "I'm a Cuckoo," and lots more.
This was also a pretty high-tech tour for a band that likes to stay loose, with films for nearly all the songs they played. Some of them were the songs' music videos, but others seemed specially made, like the Olympics montage used in "The Stars of Track and Field." This didn't stop them from changing things up, though. "We've just made a decision between two songs but you'll never know what the one we didn't pick was," teased Murdoch, but when the audience let out jeers of disapproval, he played just a snippet of the loser, "String Bean Jean," before the band launched into "Judy and the Dream of Horses," which I thought was the better choice.
The band also played to the crowd and city, offering up a mid-set trilogy of New York songs: "Piazza, New York Catcher," Stevie Jackson's "Chickfactor" (about their first visit to NYC), and "Working Boy in New York City" which is from the new album.
The main set ended with "Wrong Girl" (from Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant) and "Sleep Around the Clock." For the encore, Murdoch asked the audience for requests. "That's our Number One Most Requested Song," he said of "You're Cover's Blown," adding, "But we've never figured out how to play it." This is not true, it was a setlist regular in 2006 but it's one of their more complicated songs -- Stevie Jackson launched into the disco riff and Stuart sang the first verse and the chorus but they gave up after that. "Ok, what's your second most-requested song?" That would be "There's Too Much Love" which they also played just a little of before finishing the night with "Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying" which had the whole crowd singing along and then the bouncy "We Are the Sleepyheads" to close out the night.
Setlist and video of "Get Me Away from Here I'm Dying" are below.
Los Bitchos opened the show with a fun set of their instrumental rock that pulls from all over the world -- Tuareg guitar styles and Highlife rhythms, cumbia, surf-rock, Greek disco, Spaghetti western scores, and more. Before playing "Lindsay Goes to Mykonos," they asked if Lindsay Lohan (who the song is about) might actually be in the crowd and if so would she like to come up on stage and dance? If she was there, she didn't say so. The band also noted that they'll play a headlining show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Monday (6/20).
SETLIST: Belle & Sebastian @ SummerStage in Central Park 6/16/2022
I'm a Cuckoo
Talk to Me, Talk to Me
She's Losing It
The Boy With the Arab Strap
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Piazza, New York Catcher
Working Boy in New York City
The Stars of Track and Field
Funny Little Frog
Reclaim the Night
String Bean Jean (partial)
Judy and the Dream of Horses
The Wrong Girl
Sleep the Clock Around
Your Cover's Blown (partial, audience request)
There's Too Much Love (partial, audience request)
Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying
We Are the Sleepyheads