erasing clouds

Belle & Sebastian, Mull Historical Society and The Delgados @ the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, 17th May 2003

by anna battista

In the early '80s there were Band Aid and USA For Africa, groups of artists, releasing a single each to raise money for the famine in Africa. More benefit singles and albums followed for other countries and other aims, often arising criticisms from cynics wondering where all the money went. But years went by and the music world seemed to have forgotten Africa and its problems. Thing is, the continent is still ravaged by famine and still needs a big help. That's why The Delgados, Mull Historical Society and Belle & Sebastian have accepted to play this benefit gig organised by charity Concern and Glasgow's Sunday Herald.

Introduced by comedienne Karen Dunbar (the only redundant element of the night…) and following a short video about Africa, The Delgados open the gig with "The Night Before We Land". Their set might also include the misanthropic "All I Need Is Hate", but nobody can really hate them tonight since they're playing an excellent set, graced by violins and cellos. They close with the melodically aggressive "Thirteen Gliding Principles" a track that sends shivers down our spines.

Bathed in blue light, Mull Historical Society's Colin McIntyre sings most of the tracks from his latest album and a few well selected hits including the by now legendary "Barcode Bypass" (followed by its sequel, "The Supermarket Strikes Again") and "Xanadu" ("a track about falling in love with an Australian goddess"). Colin is a contagious disease spreading from the members of the band to the audience. A moving moment arrives with "Us" when the other members leave the stage and Colin plays the piano all alone.

Belle and Sebastian headline the second part of the night, following another short video about the famine in Africa. "Dirty Dream #2" opens the set that includes also "If You Find Yourself Caught In Love", "Seeing Other People", "Roy Walker", with Stevie Jackson asking the audience to snap their fingers rather than clap (producing a weird Addams Family effect…), "Dog On Wheel" and "The Boy With The Arab Strap".

They are perfect and, being tonight the first huge gig in Glasgow after a few years, people are simply ecstatic. They say goodbye with the lovely "Judy And the Dream Of Horses", though before playing it they have an embarrassing moment since they can't remember the exact chords for the track and a member of the audience suggests them to the band. A great night with a superb aim: perhaps benefit gigs aren't useless after all.


Issue 14, August 2003 | next article

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