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concertpic flag US - Massachusetts - Full Moon 67 - 03/28/02

Tanya Donelly
ULU, London, UK, 28.02.2002

Family Affair

The backstage door swings open and we're introduced to the band that, only a few hours later, would entertain an ecstatic crowd at the sold out ULU (University Of London Union). Actually, there's no introduction necessary for this band, because any indierocker/indierockette with only the faintest interested in the Boston music scene of the last 15 years or so would know these guys anyway: Standing next to the fridge, that's pedal steel guitarist Rich Gilbert, last seen touring the world with Mister Frank Black, a man also found on records by the Lemonheads, Uncle Tupelo, Steve Wynn or Steve Westfield; talking to the tour manager we have Dave Narcizo, drumming legend of Throwing Muses fame; with little daughter Gracie on his arm, that's Dean Fisher, former bass player in the The Juliana Hatfield Three and husband of Tanya Donelly, ex-Throwing Muses, ex-Breeders, ex-Belly and Indierock-Chanteuse extraordinaire. The lady who introduced us to these ladies and gentlemen is the band's temporary keyboard player and - as the woman behind Saint Low and Madder Rose - no stranger either: Mary Lorson.

concertpic And it was her, who started off the proceedings on this cold February evening. With just a keyboard and her old electric guitar for company, Mary won over the crowd in no time. Playing songs from her first solo album and the upcoming follow up Tricks For Dawn, this probably was one of her best solo shows ever. The audience loved every minute of it and they all went NUTS when all of a sudden Tanya Donelly appeared on stage to sing the lovely "Johnson City" with Mary! The only complaint would be that the set was entirely too short, but nevertheless it was dark and moody singer/songwriter stuff at its best! Next on the bill were the less than exciting Goldrush. Hailed as the "new Starsailor", they sounded like an updated version of Bob Dylan or Neil Young. Nice, but not very exciting.

concertpic Exciting was what came next: Tanya Donelly! For the first time in five years she played London and while in mainland Europe people kinda seem to have forgotten that Tanya was a real "star" in England with her band Belly, playing big shows and getting tons of press, in the UK nothing much has changed even seven years after the band's demise. So not very surprisingly the crowd went mad when Tanya started her set solo with - would you believe it? - A BELLY SONG! "The Bees" was a real treat, especially since Tanya had avoided songs from her previous bands on her last tour of Europe, before her baby break in 1997. An even more countrified "Landspeed" was another early highlight, now featuring the whole band. Tanya seemed to have tons of fun as well, joking with the audience and playing plenty of great songs, like the lovely duet "Keeping You". And even if her new record "Beautysleep" was supposed to be her final goodbye to the world of trendy, chart-oriented songs, it still features "The Night You Saved My Life", probably her best pop song ever and certainly a song the Cranberries would kill for. And of course they saved the best for last: Like the lovely acoustic number "After Your Party", with Dean on acoustic guitar instead of bass or the two biggest surprises of the night: First Tanya did another Belly song, the much loved "Slow Dog" and then a long forgotten cover version: "Hot Burrito #1" by the Flying Burrito Brothers, a song Belly had recorded in a less than exciting very 4AD-ish version almost ten years ago. At the ULU the song sounded very much true to the glorious original - yet another real treat. They couldn't have picked a better song to end a night that was much more than just the reunion of the class of 1993. It was a night of timeless, grown up music, a bit nostalgic at times but a great show nevertheless!

Copyright © 2002 Carsten Wohlfeld (photos also) e-mail address

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