- 26 Jul 16
The comeback kids celebrate their return to Irish shores with a showing every bit as triumphant as 21 years ago
Belly were the great lost band of Nineties indie. Though their 1993 debut Star came agonisingly close to Nirvana-scale crossover, shifting nearly a million units and securing the cover of Rolling Stone, they imploded soon afterwards and seemed to be forgotten more or less immediately. Not for them the post-break-up mythologising enjoyed by the Pixies or the hipster sheen acquired by Sonic Youth and The Breeders.
Indeed, when front woman Tanya Donnelly decided to reform Belly last year she feared few would fondly recall Star or its (underrated) 1995 follow-up King – or that the public might confuse Belly for the Palestinian-Canadian rapper of the same name. She needn’t have fretted, with the Academy close to sold-out as the quartet, featuring Gail Greenwood on bass and brothers Tom and Chris Gorman on guitar and drums, brought the shutters down on the latest leg of their comeback tour.
Donnelly always presented a fascinating contradiction, both as sidekick to adopted sister Kristin Hersh in Throwing Muses and later as leader of her own group. That tension remained as, now aged 50 and with a day job as postpartum yoga instructor, she delved into a catalogue that combined student disco effervescence and feverish American Gothic. Bringing a leery rock swagger was Greenwood, who stalked the stage and was best deployed as a foil to Donnelly’s wispier sensibilities, such as on ‘Slow Dog’ as it segued from thunking opening riff into a dark fairytale of fear and recrimination.