Bassist Gail Greenwood exclaimed and the crowd to see a reunited Belly in First Avenue’s Mainroom, was clearly feeling the same way, as their two-set performance wrapped their first tour back, after over twenty years away.
The Boston alternative foursome had made a splash in the ‘90s with two studio albums, only to break up soon after, but a February announcement of the band getting back together, and short tour beginning in July, excited the fans that had waited for this news, for so long.
The band, which takes a very hands-on DIY approach nowadays, opened for themselves in a way, with an evening of two sets of music and short intro film starring bassist Greenwood’s shelter dogs, Bear Bear and Maurice. Tanya Donelly- vocals, guitar; Tom Gorman- guitars; Chris Gorman- drums; and Gail Greenwood- bass took to the stage, blazing in with ‘Dusted’ from the band’s 1993’s debut, Star, moving then into ‘Puberty’, the intro track to 1995 follow up, King.
Singer Donelly went on to a solo career post-Belly and still has her trademark raspy pixie alternapop voice, bassist Greenwood still stalks the stage wildly and brothers Gorman seemed to have lost very little musical chops in their time away, part of which was spent being commercial photographers. “Welcome to the ‘90s!” Greenwood declared, thanking everyone for coming out and deeming the crowd as the coolest in town, for doing so.
Road testing a few new songs, Greenwood exclaimed “thank you for rocking out to a new tune” after the unreleased ‘Punish’, which leaned on the heavy guitar side, but still emanated their signature sound. The evening was almost evenly split with song from their first two albums, along with a couple of new songs and some more obscure songs. Greenwood, who joined the band after their first album, does a lot of the talking for the group, fits better musically with their more guitar/less dreamy sound, and still harmonizes well with Donelly.
‘Slow Dog’ (which went Top 20 in 1993) fired up the mostly middle age crowd and a stretched ‘Low Red Moon’ ended the group’s first fifty-minute set. ‘Untogether’ from Star, seemed to make sense to open the second fifty-five minute set, as the band had been just that, for the last two decades.
‘Seal My Fate’ was anchored by the booming backbeat of drummer Gorman (the brothers’ parents were also in the audience) and biggest hit ‘Feed the Tree’ was played midway through the second set, to transported everyone some twenty-three years back, when the song was fresh and new, and longer hair and flannel were more pervasive.
Before the new ‘Comet’, Donelly announced they would be spending the winter recording, which thrilled the longtime fans that more new music (and probably more touring), is likely coming in the near future.
A tender ‘Thief’ (from the Tank Girl soundtrack) closed the main set as the GenX crowd whooped and howled for more. “Thank you for being the greatest last audience ever!” Greenwood said as the band came out, bringing complimentary backstage doughnuts out to hand to the crowd as well.
‘Stay’, the last song from Star, closed the evening (which was oddly missing ‘Gepetto’, one of the band’s biggest hits) with its ending lyric “It's not time for me to go, stay”; but it was in fact, that time of the night for the band to say farewell.
But, with the promise of new music forthcoming, look for Belly to return again soon, to showcase both any new songs as well as old favorites… so we can again party like it’s 1992.
(* as a result of technical difficulties, no event photos are presented)