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Belle and Sebastian: Tiny Desk Concert

Now that we're back filming Tiny Desk concerts behind my desk at NPR, I get to witness that nervous energy surrounding most artists who are about to perform in an office, in daylight, with fans just a few feet away. This was surely true of the eight members of Belle and Sebastian when they kicked off their warmup with "Unnecessary Drama." That's the title of a track from the band's fabulous new album A Bit of Previous and not my description of what was about to unfold. Though I can't deny the tension.

You see, we don't amplify the singer's voice in the room, and we don't use monitor speakers. It all adds to the intimacy of the performance, but it also made it hard for Stuart Murdoch to hear himself sing. In fact, he began to question whether having an ensemble of drums, keyboards, guitars, bass, etc. was right for the Tiny Desk and considered scrapping it all in favor of him and a guitar and maybe another player. But with a little work on the overall volume of the band, some run-throughs and the creature comfort of a handheld microphone, the band from Glasgow was charming and magnificent.

Belle and Sebastian performed three songs from A Bit of Previous, its ninth album excluding two soundtracks. The band ended its delightful set with its classic tune "Judy and the Dream of Horses" from If You're Feeling Sinister, an album that's just celebrated its 25th anniversary. With questioning lyrics and youthful imagery, a guest trumpeter and a gallop in the rhythm, Belle and Sebastian gloriously made its dramatic mark at the Tiny Desk.


  • "Unnecessary Drama"
  • "Working Boy in New York City"
  • "Reclaim the Night"
  • "Judy and the Dream of Horses"

  • Stuart Murdoch: vocals, guitar 
  • Stevie Jackson: guitar, harmonica, vocals 
  • Bob Kildea: guitar, vocals 
  • Richard Colburn: drums 
  • Sarah Martin: keys, flute, recorder
  • Chris Geddes: keys
  • Dave McGowan: bass, vocals
  • Sarah Wilson: keys, vocals
  • Jason Covey: trumpet

  • Producer: Bob Boilen 
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin 
  • Director: Michael Zamora 
  • Series Producer: Bobby Carter 
  • Editor: Michael Zamora
  • Videographers: Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Michael Zamora, Pierre Kattar, Alanté Serene 
  • Production Assistants: Jill Britton, Joby Tanseco 
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Marissa Lorusso, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer, Maia Stern 
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins 
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Bob Boilen
    In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.

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