The Bellrays are no strangers to the North East of England having played at tonight’s venue The Cluny in Newcastle several times in the past. This show is one of two dates in the region on this run, as the group ushers in an early start to the weekend.
Formed back in 1990, The Bellrays are currently celebrating their landmark 30th anniversary on this UK run. And as the group take to the stage with much enthusiasm they immediately set about to task. The quartet delves into their vast songbook performing key cuts from throughout their long and successful career along with material from their latest record Punk Funk Rock Soul Vol. 2.
If you take a look at lead vocalist’s Lisa Kekaula’s Instagram page she remarks that she has a ‘Big voice and big hair’ and that is a perfectly accurate description based on tonight’s show. Lisa’s vocal range is phenomenal whilst her passion, power and uplifting persona spur on the crowd throughout.
During their 90 minute set The Bellrays cover a vast musical landscape. The band play without boundaries, as they belt through a collection of Punk, Soul, Blues and Rock and Roll tunes from their vast repertoire. Highlights including the likes of Everybody Get Up, Infection and Power To Burn, to name but a few.
The Bellrays play with a degree of musical freedom that truly allows them to experiment, extend or jam out many of the songs in their setlist. This, in turn, allows each member of the group to take their moment in the spotlight, or even take on lead vocal duty in some cases.
This melting pot of sound conjures up images of proto-punk legends such as the MC5. It’s no surprise that Kekaula has performed as a guest vocalist alongside surviving members of the aforementioned band. Likewise, Bob Vennum, who can often be found poised on the lip of the stage, attacks the guitar with a windmill like ferocity akin to that of the MC5’s brother Wayne Kramer himself.
During the show, both Kekaula and Vennum march their way through the audience whilst simultaneously rallying the fans in attendance. The crowd can’t help themselves but to get down to the band’s infectious grooves.
Tonight it’s fair to say that The Bellrays sink every ounce of their energy into their set in a show that runs to almost 11.30 pm. The four-piece reach the end of their high octane main performance with the thunderous Black Lightening. And at first, it looks like they are done, but just like the Duracell Bunny, they keep on going. No matter how tired the band gets they push through into the encore with Blues For Godzilla.
Earlier this week we saw one of the most depressing days of the year in the shape of Blue Monday as it has now become known. However, tonight those post-Christmas blues were most certainly lifted thanks to some Californian musical sunshine courtesy of The Bellrays.