Belly’s Dove tour began its journey last night at The Teragram Ballroom, in Los Angeles. The tour supports the band’s first new record in over 20 years. When band members Tanya Donelly (lead vocals, guitar), Gail Greenwood (bass), Tom Gorman (guitar), and Chris Gorman (drums) decided to get back together for a reunion tour in 2016, they had chosen to do so without the backing of a record label. The success of that tour was followed by another independent success: Dove. Produced by Tom Gorman and Paul Q. Kolderie, the record is a marvel both in terms of its songwriting and its production, and a full house of loyal fans were the first to hear some of those songs performed live, at the first show of Belly’s 14 date tour.
Fifteen minutes prior to the first of the band’s two sets, the intimate venue seemed a little empty. 60 or so fans huddled around the front of the stage in anticipation. By around 8:10 p.m., when the band walked onstage, the house was packed. The band’s cheerleader, Gail, came out and filmed the audience — seeming just as intent and excited to record them as they were to record her. After some minor shuffling about and talking amongst themselves, Gail asked her bandmates, “Are we gonna do this?” Then the band started the show with “Low Red Moon.”
The modest stage setting, which consisted of a few mic’d amplifiers, belied the band’s large sound. The fans stayed in step with the band throughout the course of the show. This occurred not only because of Belly’s performance, but also because of their rapports with the audience and one another. As during their 2016 visit to The Teragram, their concert was peppered with jokes, kidding around, and a familiarity between themselves and their crowd.
There were some kinks to iron out the first date of their tour, starting with the setlist. A few times, between the first few numbers, which included “Dusted,” and “Army of Clay,” the band called out for someone named Colin to bring up all the pieces of paper from their green room; they were missing their setlists. While this probably seemed a little awkward for the band, they took it in stride, laughing it off along with an audience that was clearly happy just to be in the band’s presence.
After the proper papers had been taped down to the stage, the band played a great “Red,” and the audience sang along. Next came “Artifact of the Heart,” from Dove, followed by the old fave “Feed the Tree.” The two set show consisted of a good mix of new and old songs. Highlights included “Slow Dog,” “Faceless,” “Human Child,” “Super-Connected,” and “Judas My Heart.”
The show seemed a little short, but maybe that’s just because the time went by so quickly. After playing for about an hour, they took a 20 minute break; then they returned to finish up the show by around 10:00. All in all, Belly puts on a great show. Some of the material wasn’t performed perfectly, but whenever something came off as a little unpolished, Gail usually sounded out with a joke like, “Next, we’re going to play something that we know.” Their act comes off just as it is; they are a bunch of musicians who are doing what they love doing for the fun of it — it just so happens that they are great musicians with a solid catalog of songs — and in between the yuks, they can still hit some of those magical, mystical beats that have held the fascination of their fans since the beginning.