OAKLAND — Belle and Sebastian had the crowd dancing Monday at the Fox Theater. The Scottish outfit, led by frontman Stuart Murdoch, brought tons of energy and made the most of its visit to the Bay Area.
Belle and Sebastian arrived onstage to a backdrop of a film countdown with old video footage set behind a blue haze of fog, an aesthetic that the band clung to throughout the night. It added mystery to start off a night that would be filled with fun and energy that did not dip once. Murdoch in particular was charismatic and incredibly fun to watch onstage as he pranced and danced through the set.
Between songs, he entertained with engaging banter, such as taking a few friendly jabs at the neighboring city across the Bay.
“San Francisco? Who would ever want to live there? It always looks like a witch casted a fog over the city,” Murdoch joked. The jab that was softened by his pleasant Scottish accent.
Later, during “Sukie in the Graveyard,” Murdoch hopped on the barricade and began reaching out to provide some direct interaction with the fans. He was selecting fans to come dance on-stage with him and the band to popular cut “The Party Line.”
However, Murdoch was not the only shining star Monday night. Guitarist Stevie Jackson starred on one of Belle and Sebastian’s newer tracks, “Sweet Dew Lee.” Jackson took center stage and made the absolute most of it, providing steady vocals over the hypnotic guitar chords.
The band ended its set with fan favorite “I Want The World to Stop” while providing another nod to the Bay Area with the song’s accompanying visuals. The band used footage they took on a ferry ride earlier that day. Belle and Sebastian also managed to bring its vibrancy to even high levels, closing on an incredibly fun high. Unfortunately, this made the two-song encore that followed a bit underwhelming. That’s not a dog at the Scottish band; it would be a difficult task for most bands to follow up a performance of that caliber.
Japanese Breakfast, the solo project of musician Michelle Zauner, was a great warm up for the heavily anticipated headliner. Zauner displayed great emotion throughout her set, looking incredibly poised and comfortable on-stage, and that energized the crowd.