Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

Belly


After some 20 plus years, Belly are back, regrouped and touring once again. It goes without saying that they were always going to hit Portsmouth on the first date of the British leg of the tour. The line-up may have changed ever so slightly but with Belly it was always going to be all about the songs. The preview suggested that on being asked to reform for a few shows they decided if a full return was going to happen, it was “now or never”.

We bought our tickets early and that was a wise decision – the Wedge is virtually full. Strangely there is no support tonight. Arriving on stage some 15 minutes later than the proposed 8.45 start they make an inauspicious if somewhat nervous entrance. They open with ‘Low Red Moon’ from the Star LP; Gail (bass/vox) is pitched way too loud, drowning everything else. And talking of drowning, I’ve never seen so much dry ice – one could be forgiven for thinking its 1985! “Seal My Fate” comes next as the band throw off any ring rust. Gail takes centre stage early and throughout, jovially bantering with the crowd somewhat nervously. Tanya smiles, occasionally joining in. “Army of Clay” is the first offering from their latest LP “Dove” but it’s the biggies that are going to get this crowd warmed up. Sound issues subsided a rampant “Gepetto” settles any nerves as they finally find their feet and begin to let go. It’s the first big singalong of the night and everyone is smiling. A great “Now They’ll Sleep” is sandwiched between newbie’s “Mine” and set closer “Human Child”. Gail then announces that it’s time to ‘phone the babysitter’ and other like-minded musings! The band take a 15-minute break before returning with a stronger and more upbeat set.

Belly
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With any sound issues/glitches now erased they open with more songs from Dove. “Shiny One” precedes recent single “Stars Align” before Gail (again) invites us to dance like its 1993! She is chief rabble-rouser all night before reminding us of our age! “Artifact” and “Untogether” sees the acoustic guitars come out. Tom (guitar), motionless throughout even starts to move around, away from his largely shoegaze stance. Brother Chris (drums) is powerful throughout, despite being invisible behind so much dry ice! “The Bees” stays in the softer gentler arena, proceeding crowd favourite “Feed The Tree”. “Dusted” keeps up the faster pace, followed by “Super-Connected” which also doesn’t disappoint. And this folks is where the show ends. However, we weren’t going to let them leave without an encore.

They return shortly with ‘Thief’ with the ladies dual vocals coming to the fore. On ‘Spaceman’ Tanya pushes her vocal harmonies to the absolute limit, just about hitting the highs. They finally depart us with ‘Starry-Eyed’ (bonus track from Dove). It’s another lo-fi dream pop number and in this heat a welcome departure. The band say their farewells, Gail gets another photo opportunity and that folks, is that. Will they ever return? I wouldn’t bet against it. Despite all having other careers this is clearly where their hearts lie. You canĂ­t keep a good band down and Belly tonight reminded us all why we loved them in the first place.

Set list
Set 1
Low Red Moon
Seal My Fate
Army of Clay
Gepetto
Red
Quicksand
Mine
Now They’ll Sleep
Human Child

Set 2
Shiny One
Stars Align
Slow Dog
Artifact
Untogether
The Bees
Feed the Tree
Dusted
Super Connected

Encore
Thief
Spaceman
Starryeyed

Links
http://bellyofficial.com
http://facebook.com/belly

Review and Pictures by Ross A. Ferrone.

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