I live in Salford. I go to gigs. I write about the gigs. And other stuff...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Doves, Manchester Apollo, 6th April 2005

I wasn't particularly looking forward to this one. Doves new album, Some Cities, is a completely underwhelming listen, lacking the ambition and inspiration of their previous efforts. Sometimes hearing such an album played live can result in an epiphany, a realisation that you just didn't get it first time round and that you should go back and listen to it properly. I was hoping that this would happen tonight. It didn't.

Delayed by a swift pint in The Union and the mother of all hailstorms, we arrive, Mrs Ledge and I, somewhere in the middle of The Magic Numbers' set. A strange looking bunch, lots of hair, almost as old as most of the crowd, bass player is Corrie's Angela Harris escaped from prison, definitely a west coast Mamas and Papas thing going on here even though they're from Ealing (via Trinidad). The music has a west coast americana vibe that will have Uncut journalists coming in their pants (but still they'll put The Rolling Stones on the cover again). It all sounds great to start with but the songs seem to go on forever and the audience quickly lose their patience, filling the venue with a level of chatter which threatens to drown the band out. The occasional song shines through such as the single "Hymn To Her" which sounds excellent, but I'd much prefer to see them in a more intimate venue with a more appreciative audience.

Doves get the crowd on their side from the off with the opening trio of "Pounding", "Words" and "Black And White Town" immediately making my trip worthwhile. "Pounding" is especially good, reminding me of what Doves were all about before they went all dour on us with Some Cities. As expected, things do sag during the Some Cities numbers. "Almost Forgot Myself" barely registers and triggers an annoying increase in audience babble and trips to the bar. Ditto "Ambition". These are only minor blips, however. "Sea Song", "Caught By The River" and "The Last Broadcast" all bring the audience back onside, with Jimi Goodwin in fine voice (he gets a bit of stick in some reviews but his voice has a great down-to-earth quality which suits the material) and clearly enjoying playing his home town again after a long time away. Of the older stuff only "New York" outstays its welcome (it was never one of my favourites) and prompts yet more trips to the bar, more people pushing their way through the crowd carrying huge amounts of beer and pissing off everyone who actually wants to watch the gig. Standing next to me in the latter stages is Magic Numbers singer Romeo who nurses a beer in each hand and nods along enthusiastically. I'll forgive him his trip to the bar as he can watch the band every night of the tour. And he was quite polite when pushing past.

The real reason I'm here closes the main set. "The Cedar Room" is in my Top 10 of the Greatest Songs Ever and has, in my opinion, the greatest chorus known to Man. Mrs Ledge claims that my Top 10 of the Greatest Songs Ever contains about 100 songs, and maybe it does, but "The Cedar Room" would definitely be in the Top 10 of those 100. If that makes sense. Anyway, tonight it's awesome, as usual, and I holler along with Jimi, the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention.

The excellent "Here It Comes" kicks off the encores and is followed by "Satellites" and the inevitable, but much appreciated, "There Goes The Fear". It should end there and then but they play the Sub Sub track "Space Face" which puts a dampener on things - I was never into the Hacienda rave scene and so it's of no relevance to me, though it is to the E'd up 30-somethings who greet it like it's in their Top 10. Oh well.

So, no reprieve for Some Cities, and Doves will have to raise their game next time around if they don't want to spend the rest of their careers trading on the excellence of their first two albums.


Anonymous chugg said...

i've been so uninspired by anything i've heard off some cities that it dropped to the very bottom of my 'to buy' list before it even came out. sounds like it was money well saved.

Thu May 12, 02:39:00 pm


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