By Howard Myint
She hasn't lost it. Not one bit. Tanya Donelly, sans Belly does not suffer from any lack of heart or band dynamics. With nothing more than "Hi," Donelly treated the full house of adoring fans to a solo version of "The Bees." The spell was being cast, acoustic guitar strummings and Donelly's charismatic ethereal voice wrapping so perfectly around its chords. Nothing but explosive applause at the song's close. This was going to be the start of a high-bar, electrifying performance.
Touring in support of her recently released solo album Lovesongs for Underdogs, Donelly brought her five-piece band and steamrolled the crowd at Slim's. Moving along, Donelly passed off her acoustic guitar to lead guitarist Rich Gilbert and focused on emoting the touching "Acrobat." For this song, Donelly shifted gears and added a smoky nuance to her voice. Keyboardist Elizabeth Steen provided adequate backing vocals, fully retaining the album's integrity.
"Breathe" began the rocking forthright with rough-and-tumble guitar riffing from Gilbert. As they approached the fourth song, "Lantern," Steen brought out an accordion and the dancing (on and off stage) hit fever pitch. Many whooped and hollered, as they knew their heroine was rockin'-her hips were doing their trademark sway. Gilbert substituted lots of guitar skronk and squall in lieu of the electronic punctuation on the recorded version. By song's end, not only was Donelly swaying, she was doing the splayed foot stomp. All bets are now officially off- everyone is now guaranteed a good time. Though Donelly introduced Belly material with a simple "This is an old one," the audience was truly appreciative. "Low Red Moon," had the crowd wrapped around Donelly's little finger with its loud-soft play. By the time the latest single "Pretty Deep" sounded its first double hi-hat figure, all were up on their feet bouncing (or however dancing) to the undeniable momentum. From there, a litany of rockers, "Bright Light" and "Dusted" ushered in the return of Tanya Donelly, the sweetest girl with a guitar to ever kick your ass.
p.s. How nice a girl you ask? The encore started with a solo acoustic version of "Feed the Tree," which she dedicated to her biggest fan (and new-found friend) Vinh Le, the man who spent his vacation following Tanya across Canada.
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