Belly helps the Union Transfer crowd find release in a maddening week - WXPN
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Belly | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Toward the end of a first set at Union Transfer on Friday night, Belly singer Tanya Donelly seemed to sum up what was on the audience’s collective minds, lobbing this succinct lamentation: “What a shit week!”

The Rhode-Island rockers are maybe best known for a 1993 debut record of mind-bending, often dark songs that conjure imagery around funerals under trees, stolen children, melancholy breakups and blood moons — richly textured dream-pop landscapes forged with twisted takes on nursery rhyme cadences that you could call anything from mystical to macabre.

One thing they’ve never been, though, is overtly political, and even here Donelly seemed reluctant to really go into it further. But people knew. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s cursory review and dismissive mishandling last Thursday of credible sexual assault testimony against the current Supreme Court nominee was on everyone’s mind, even if Donelly’s reference remained mostly sort of tacit until bassist Gail Greenwood named it outright a few minutes later with her advice for their intermission, “we’ll be back in 15 minutes — you can go to the bar and pound beers like Brett Kavanaugh!” To that, Donelly stood tall in solidarity, extending a proud double-middle-finger salute as fans cheered her on.

If Donelly was right, though, Belly proved themselves just the “shit-week” sherpas you’d want to have to see you through it, with a blistering double-set that sampled equally from beloved 90’s releases Star and King. In contrast to their last Philly appearance two years ago, though, they put more of a spotlight on new material from 2018’s Dove — their first LP following a 22-year hiatus — making it evident that they weren’t on a “reunion tour” cashing in on nineties’ nostalgia anymore. Donelly sounds as great, as she always did, serving up modern rock anthems with her trademark soaring vocals, framed by Tom and Chris Gorman on lead guitar and drums, and Greenwood striking her iconic kinetic rock-goddess bass guitar poses.

Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.

Setlist

Set 1:
Seal My Fate
Army Of Clay
Dusted
Mine
Red
The Bees
Quicksand
Stars Align
Now They’ll Sleep
Silverfish

Set 2:
Shiny One
Gepetto
Faceless
Feed The Tree
Artifact
Slow Dog
Girl
Super-Connected
Full Moon, Empty Heart
Human Child

Encore:
Low Red Moon
Starryeyed

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