Say what you like about Doves.
Call them lumbering and gloomy and dour, label them Manchester-lite, try and make
them cry a bit if you can by accusing them of sporting the latest in dustbinman
chic. But you just don’t start a gig with three of your best songs (containing
indeed 2 of the best singles of the past few years), unless you’ve got one hell
of a set racked up behind you. And so they shuffle anonymously, matter of factly
into position and with an explosion of hard-wearing beats and piercing blue light
it begins. ‘Pounding’ is a massive atmospheric haul, ‘Words’ a blissful urban
summer rainfall and ‘Black & White Town’ a regimented blur of pace and strong
intentions. A well-mannered crowd beats out its appreciation unashamedly. And
as it begins, it really doesn’t stop. 60 minutes still to go? Follow that then?
mean, okay, so who else has such a unmistakably consistent back-catalogue? ‘Some
Cities’ was only further recent confirmation of this. That is no surprise, in
that respect they’re markedly unsurprising. But you could be fully aware of their
recorded prowess and be knocked sideways by what they offer up in person tonight.
In fact, it helps.
Because it is controlled workmanship that defines their
recorded work, chronicling moments maybe, getting lost amid vast reflections of
experiences perhaps, but never really seizing the moment and making it their own.
But that is what every minute of tonight’s show is about, no doubt helped on by
the grand theatrical magnificence of the surrounding venue. This is not by any
means a set that hangs around waiting for ‘There Goes the Fear’ to show its face.
In a way it’s their anonymity that helps them make this statement, to step
out of the shadows and the low light, tonight. These are unclaimed expanses of
sound, Doves don’t ever assert ownership, their personality is never unduly invading,
though they still selflessly craft to the highest standards. These songs feel
like they belong more to the audience than the band, and the audience celebrate
accordingly, raising their arms ecstatically, swaying mesmerized, loudly chanting
the melody to ‘the Last Broadcast’ in-between songs. And when they see Jimi Goodwin
brimming ecstatically at the lip of the stage, hauling hypnotic lines roughly
from his bass guitar, a little out of character at least for his presumed role,
it’s like that devotion has been rewarded. Tonight is a triumph for all involved.
Always look deeper than a band’s overcoat.
James Berry for Crud Magazine 2004©
Janauary - March 2005 - News Archive