- by charles filtness Rating: Release Date: Label:
Doves are back. After a lengthy hiatus, the Manchester trio announced late last year that they would be playing live again in 2019. Tonight’s performance is their comeback, a first warm up show before a string of dates in larger venues and festivals in the coming days and months.
It is almost ten years since they last performed together and over 20 years since the release of the first singles that would appear on their debut album Lost Souls. When that album arrived in 2000 it was a startlingly assured and accomplished work. In contrast to the often retrogressive and 60s obsessed Britpop era bands that had seemed to dominate much of the preceding five years or so; Lost Souls seemed to share more in common with some of the more sonically progressive guitar bands of the early 90s. Comparisons with releases by artists like Talk Talk and others whose pursuit of perfectionism in the sounds and space they captured on record still seem perfectly justified.
Appreciation is often something that can increase exponentially with the passage of time, listening to those albums again now is hugely rewarding. It would be easy to argue the merits of each album individually, more difficult to place one over another. Collectively they are a strong body of work.
Lost Souls and its follow up The Last Broadcast are perhaps the two classics. Loved by many, they were undoubtedly the perfect soundtrack to the small hours of innumerable nights of revelry and camaraderie. There is, of course, a strong sense of nostalgia for past times and the music that went with it. But Doves were more than a shared experience or an anthemic single. Certainly, they can exhilarate, listening to songs like Here it comes, Catch The Sun and Pounding, is still a thrill. Perhaps more often the songs are gently euphoric, creating a woozy, shimmering sound. They were also not afraid to embrace tenderness and fragility, there is depth and feeling to the songs, beauty in the sound they captured.
Tonight’s gig was announced only a couple of weeks ago, it was a sell out in minutes. 1000 or so fans pack out the Victorian theatre in the centre of Warrington. As the clock turns to 9pm a David Lynch quote is projected on to the stage backdrop "Give yourself permission to express yourself as freely and completely as possible, have faith that this is a worthy endeavour and believe that you can do it”. Self-doubt is a natural emotion we all have to contend with from time to time.
They take the stage and open with Firesuite which is the perfect intro. Hexagonal lighting columns fill the stage with the screen to the rear projecting video images from time to time. It looks great. As always Doves as a live proposition are a four-piece with the addition of keyboards. Brothers Jez and Andy are positioned together to the side with Jimi more to the centre and out front. They don't disappoint, the set list is aimed to please; Snowdon, Black & White Town, and Words are crowd favourites and receive a lively response early on. There are a few moments where the delivery maybe isn’t quite as they might have hoped, the odd missed line here or there but it barely matters. Jez and Andy are dynamic, their playing is tight, looking to each other for the next cue, they are the backbone of the band on stage. Jimi though is a star, incredibly warm with the crowd and clearly enjoying being back, possibly in contrast he looks like he maybe hasn't quite worked out that everything is a bit easier with advancing years if you look after yourself a bit more, jumping about to Pounding doesn’t last long. In fairness, though his voice is outstanding, he's lost nothing there.
With the last four songs of the main set, something seems to gel. Kingdom of Rust, Pounding, 10.03 and Caught by the River are simply fantastic. They leave the stage and return for a three-song encore. Starting with lesser known Darker from their b-sides comp, it's a moody, brooding more electro sounding song which is fantastic, a highlight. No Space Face to end with from their Sub Sub days as used to be the standard but with The Cedar Room and There Goes The Fear to finish no one could possibly complain.