Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #2

Glee Club, Cardiff - 11th June 2018

I have vague memories of seeing Belly at Glastonbury one year, possibly ’92 or ’93. They also opened the bill for R.E.M. in Cardiff in ’95 but we got there too late to see them. Twenty-odd years on then, going to see Belly live is like seeing them for the first time, yet at the same time reassuringly familiar. Part of the new experience feeling is down to the venue. The Glee Club is normally a comedy club but they do host occasional music events. It’s located in Cardiff Bay which, bearing in mind the glorious, hot weather we’ve been having, is an idyllic setting for visitors to our capital. It was mine and MrsRobster’s first time at the Glee, but Our Mate Colin (who was joining us) had previously been there to see The Pierces a couple years back.

Belly’s comeback was most welcome. They broke up prematurely after just two albums. Tanya Donelly has gone on to make some more than decent solo material in the two decades since, but I always thought her band had unfinished business. So it proved with this year’s comeback record ‘Dove’, one of my fave albums of 2018 so far.

No support band tonight, instead Tanya, Gail, Tom and Chris played two sets. Sadly, the first set was beset with sound issues – not enough guitars in the monitors, Tanya’s earpiece wasn’t working, too much bass here, not enough drums there... All rather tedious, and to my ears, never fully resolved throughout the night. But the mood was lightened by Gail Greenwood’s relentless banter, even if she did sometimes sound like a hyperactive teenager. My spirits were also lifted by the sight of Tanya’s smile! At the risk of upsetting a certain MrsRobster, I would just like to say how gorgeous Tanya looks. Talk about aging well, she’s barely changed since her Throwing Muses days.

Anyway, before I get a blunt object launched at my head, better talk about the music. As you might expect, there was a fair proportion of new material in the set, with varying degrees of success. Human Child, one of my favourite tracks on ‘Dove’, was stunning, as was Starryeyed which closed the first set. Army of Clay and Faceless also stood out, but Stars Align and Shiny One both suffered from the rather poor sound.

As you might expect though, the oldies received the biggest cheers of the evening. Super-Connected (from second album ‘King’) opened the night, and we were subsequently treated to welcome airings of Gepetto, Feed The Tree, Dusted and Slow Dog (possibly my personal favourite Tanya song ever). There were rumours that an old friend was in the audience – Brian Futter, formerly of Catherine Wheel (now there’s a band who I’d love to reform for a few shows. I’d definitely buy a ticket!). They dedicated Red and Low Red Moon to “the ginger motherfucker” (as he’s so delicately dubbed by drummer Chris). There was also room for an old b-side, fan favourite Superman, during the encore.

While the sound remained a bit iffy throughout, this was a fun little gathering. The songs rose above the technical issues to shine on their own, a point that raises the old question: why the heck weren’t Belly absolutely massive? Their critical acclaim has grown steadily over the past 2½ decades in their absence, yet they remain criminally underrated. I’m not expecting Belly to take over the world this time around either, but all the same, it’s good to have them back with us. Hopefully they’ll stick around for a bit and make another record.


  1. Good review. Pity about the sound issues.
    I remember their first album never leaving my CD player in the mind 90's.

  2. I had a thing for her too. You just about have me buying the new one.

  3. Great review of a band I liked a lot the first time round. Haven't heard the new LP yet, but you have me intrigued.