Bright Eyes – Los Angeles – Greek Theater, CA – 2003-08-24

Bright Eyes
Where: Los Angeles – Greek Theater, CA.

When: 2003-08-24

This was an amazing but all-too-brief show. The concert began promptly at 7:30 pm with emo poster child, Bright Eyes, opening for Belle and Sebastian. Connor Oberst had a good sized number of people in his band, which included a few members of Rilo Kiley. The band sounded technically proficient but lacked stage presence. I was surprised how many people comprised his band, because I thought the band only consisted of Oberst. Bright Eyes sounded a bit alt-country and mellow at times with slide guitar thrown in the mix, but this was negated by Oberst’s distinctive vocal style. I particularly enjoyed his solo songs the best. They came off as being the most simple, sincere, and straightforward songs in his set. The major problem that I had with Bright Eyes’ music is that the band perform in smaller, intimate venues rather than large arenas because the music sounded somewhat hollow and flat, while the band looked engulfed and tiny on a stage that was too large for the band. Bright Eyes have the potential to be amazingly powerful, if the band were situated in the right performance space.

On the other hand, Belle and Sebastian is a band that is right at home playing in large venues. The band is comprised of several members and amply fills up the stage and arena with their music. I always enjoy seeing the band live because Belle and Sebastian always makes each show special and different from the last. Belle and Sebastian played old favorites along with some new tracks off their upcoming album thrown in for good measure. Even with Isobel Campbell’s (former cellist) departure from the band, Belle and Sebastian were in fine form and sounded lovely and very full, probably in part to the extra string musicians added on for the tour.

The set included (in no particular order):
State That I Am In
Summer Wasting
Dylan in the Movies
Sleep the Clock Around
Jonathan David
There’s too Much Love
Boy with the Arab Strap
Dirty Dream 2
Women’s Realm
Judy and the Dream of Horses (encore)
A few new tracks from the Dear Catastrophe Waitress album

Being an unabashed Belle and Sebastian fan, I always enjoy the covers that the band performs, because it always changes from city to city. For the Los Angeles show, covers included the Love track “Little Red Book,” as well as a song by Neil Diamond. The highlight of the night was when the producer of their new album, Trevor Horn (who weirdly enough produced TATU’s album), joined the band for an entertaining rendition of the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” As the former Buggles frontman, Horn sang and played his bass guitar and even wore his Buggles glasses for nostalgic effect, flashbacking everyone to the early 80s.

The great part about seeing Belle and Sebastian live (apart from Stuart Murdoch’s fey dancing) is the band’s sense of humor. Belle and Sebastian come off as a very serious and precious band in their recordings, but they are quite funny live. Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson in particular were being very playful and joking with each other and the crowd. I also liked how Belle and Sebastian interacts and appreciates their fans. The only qualm I have about this show was that it ended before 11pm. Belle and Sebastian ended the show around 10:30pm, so the concert was not nearly long enough!