Belly – The Garage, Glasgow – Friday 15th July 2016
When an audience is having their best time in, what, 20 years (?), you know you’re onto a good thing if the band on stage is actually having EVEN more fun.
And that’s how it feels at the sold-out Glasgow Garage on Friday night at the first official date of Belly’s reunion tour.
The show’s something of a marathon – there’s two, roughly hour long, sets plus an encore adding up to 22 songs in total, with the material running through a mixture of the hits, LP tracks, B-sides and even two new songs.
Highlights abound. There’s the opening chords of first song ‘Angel’ which send a shiver up this particular spine (a feat to be repeated on a fair number of occasions throughout the night).
There’s a dramatic and dazzling ‘Low Red Moon’, and if the rockier songs like ‘Super-Connected’ and ‘Feed The Tree’ are euphoric then the slower songs like ‘Stay’ and ‘Untogether’ are tender and beautiful.
There’s also the two new song to consider. Although Tanya is quick to stress that they’re works in progress, neither ‘Punish’ nor ‘Comet’ sound like they’re very far away at all from being complete. ‘Punish’ is at the heavier end of the Belly spectrum whilst ‘Comet’ is an ambitious number which sounds like the final version is going to be quite spectacular.
But the highlights aren’t just musical – just watching the band is rewarding. So there’s the sight of not just Gail but also Tanya pogoing through the intro of ‘Gepetto’. Or Chris claiming to have forgotten how to play – he’s offered the advice “Tap, tap, tap”.
The hits, of course, are received rapturously – even Tanya’s tuning note for ‘Slow Dog’ (just one note!) sparks a frenzy and the reaction to ‘Feed The Tree’ is so great that Tanya has to step to the side of her mic and give a little curtsy at its end. But then again the album tracks and the B-sides get a similar response.
OK, there are certainly some signs that this was the first night of the tour. There are doubtless mistakes most noticeably when Tom mistakenly steps forward to offer backing vocals on ‘Low Red Moon’ before quickly stepping back and mock hanging himself to Gail’s obvious hilarity.
The show also has the odd technical problems none more than the arse-quaking bass sound (bio-warfare according to Gail) which slightly mars a couple of songs in the mid-section of the second set. But as compensation there’s an off-mic exchange between Tanya and Gail which was easy to lip-read – G: OMG! T:WTF?
But for an audience who have waited as long to see this band play again these minor difficulties only lend the show a unique charm.
My over-riding memory of the show however may well be the version of ‘Full Moon, Empty Heart’ which closes the first set. Tanya plays the song largely solo but applies a brake on the song’s tempo more than once making the audience’s attempts to singalong a little hilarious. It’s a joyful, interactive few minutes which emphasises the special bond between this band and their fans.
Let’s hope that Belly decide to spend next year’s summer holidays touring again!
1. Angel 2. Puberty 3. Seal My Fate 4. Untitled & Unsung 5. Judas My Heart 6. Feed The Tree 7. Punish 8. The Bees 9. Slow Dog 10. Now They’ll Sleep 11. Low Red Moon 12. Full Moon Empty Heart
13. Untogether 14. Spaceman 15. Gepetto 16. Dusted 17. Comet 18. Broken 19. Red 20. Super-Connected 21. Stay