There are shows at Red Rocks that simply fall from the mind: a blur of the affects of party favors. Other shows, however, are more docile and mannerly, where both the performers and the audience members are polite and courteous . Belle and Sebastian’s performance at Red Rocks on Wednesday definitely fell under the category of docile and mannerly.
Opening for Belle and Sebastian was the soul group, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. Clad in a canary yellow suit and King Tut embroidered t-shirt, Bradley wooed the crowd with his vintage sound and his magnetic stage presence. He sang with fervor, falling to his knees and throwing the microphone over one shoulder in a heat of passion. Soon, Bradley’s set came to a close, though, to the dismay of his audience members, and it was Belle and Sebastian’s turn at the stage. Before the British band came into view, however, members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra made their way to theirs chairs at the back of the stage for their collaborative performance.
The set started on an almost misleadingly sombre note. Black and white photos of industrial workers, and handsome men thinking really really hard flashed across the big screen, along with cringe-worthy words like “COMPANIONSHIP” and “LEADERSHIP.” Whether or not this somber tone was meant to be serious is unlikely, as the rest of the performance proved a two-hour-long testament to the band’s odd sense of humor. This sense of humor began to peak it’s way around the slew of cliché black and white photos and inspirational words as four backup singers pranced on stage to play electric air guitars wearing cut off shorts, high top sneakers, and bouncy ponytails. These girls would return several times throughout the set to assist in dramatically performed skits with lead singer Stuart Murdoch, dressing him up in a skirt mid-set and smearing an audience member’s makeup on his face.
The band switched between newer, dancier tracks and the old favorites that audience members sang along with nostalgically. All the while, Murdoch hopped energetically around the stage, moving from the keyboard, to the bongos and then the guitar. The group’s vocals where astounding, not one member was out of pitch, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra made each song sound like a Hollywood soundtrack version of it’s recording.
In between songs, Murdoch took a moment to admire the stars, saying things as heartfelt as “I think that’s a good sign that the God of Love is looking down on us tonight.” He also complimented his fans endlessly, who danced and sang along graciously to each song. At one point, Murdoch invited audience members to come on stage and dance with him, and they did just that. Not one person snatched the microphone from him to shout a slurred obscenity at the crowd. Not one bra was thrown. Both the performers and the audience remained polite and grateful throughout the show. For one damn night, everything was beautiful, and no one got hurt.