Alt-Nation: Belly @ The Café at The Parlor in Newport

To kick off their first performances in 20 years, Belly returned to where it all started in Newport performing a few doors down from where their first ever show was staged. These shows at the Café at the Parlor were announced just days before as an intimate show/live rehearsal for Belly’s world tour, which begins on July 15 in Scotland.  I caught the second show to give Belly a night to work out the kinks because who has time for amateur hour. It was interesting talking to people who attended both nights because opinions definitely were mixed on which show was strongest.  One thing was clear: Belly has successfully tapped into the magical chemistry that made them such a great band.

Belly pretty much emptied the cannon for the set list playing for nearly two hours with a set that drew from their two albums, B-sides, and even new material. Their dreamy alterna-pop debut, Star, was represented with cuts like “Slow Dog,” “Low Red Moon” and my personal favorite, the dark rocking “Dusted.”  Their more rock ‘n’ roll orientated sophomore effort, King, was represented by “Red,” “Untitled and Unsung” and “Super Connected.”  I couldn’t help thinking during the latter of the irony of playing a song with that title when likely half the crowd was on the guest list.  Singer/Guitarist Tanya Donelly’s vocals sounder better than ever and the harmonies with the always rockin’ and a head a boppin’ bassist Gail Greenwood were sickly sweet. If the Gorman brothers on guitar and drums had any rust the first night, it didn’t carry over. Although I kind of like the idea of a band reuniting and not playing the hits, well at least till I saw Smashing Pumpkins a few years ago, when Belly played “Gepetto” and “Feed The Tree” it was like stepping into a time warp back to 1996 singing along like none of the last 20 years happened. Nobody got shot, which these days is a success in itself and the new tunes sounded like they could have been written for Star – perfect! There were some kinks and the band had to stop and restart one song, but the spark that made Belly special is still burning bright. I’m sure by the time Belly get to Boston for an August 12 show at the Royale Nightclub they’ll be on cruise control.

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