Friday evening was a bittersweet one for team Continuum. Several of us went to the ceremony for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, hoping for our man Jonathan Coe to pick up the prize for Biography of the Year. No such luck. The winning biography was this, about Robert Oppenheimer. The two authors had apparently been working on it for 25 years, so fair enough…We’ll win something next year.
We did sit very near to Joan Didion, which was a thrill. (She didn’t win, either.)
Then four of us cabbed it up to Times Square for the Belle and Sebastian show at the Nokia Theatre.
Hadn’t been to the Nokia before, but damn – it’s like walking into an upscale hotel! A very well put-together venue. The New Pornographers were perfectly decent, while Belle & Sebastian were spectacularly good. It almost beggars belief how much they’ve changed since the early shows – Stuart and Stevie are quite the double act these days, and Sarah very quietly holds the whole thing together, without anybody really noticing. The setlist consisted almost entirely of very old songs and very new songs, and threw up some astonishing combinations: an utterly gorgeous “The Boy Done Wrong Again” followed by a dumb, delirious “The Blues Are Still Blue”, for example. I miss the ramshackle bumbling mumbling charm of yesteryear, but B&S in 2006 are simply much, much better.