Doves, The Picture House
Doves **** The Picture House AFTER fellow Mancunian miserablists Elbow came good – last year winning the Mercury Prize with their fourth album – now is the time of the Doves. Or so we're told.
Indeed, to hear some music writers talk, you'd think the three-piece need only turn up to claim the prestigious prize later this year.
While that remains to be seen, there's little doubt the band's fourth album, Kingdom of Rust, is one of the year's finest to date.
With three impressive, idiosyncratic albums already to their name, the right fourth album always looked likely to propel them into the mainstream alongside Elbow. And so it proved.
Boosted by the best reviews of their career, it entered the charts at number two earlier this month – Lady Gaga outsold them by a mere ten copies.
After a steady, if unspectacular opening set from electric and eclectic groovesters The Invisible (now there's an apt name for a support band), Doves were given a heroes' welcome as they took to the stage.
It's true that Jimi Goodwin (vocals/bass) and brothers Jez and Andy Williams (guitar and drums respectively) have never been the most charismatic bunch, but then no-one present at The Picture House had forked out the 18 entrance fee for the craic.
As if to illustrate the point, Goodwin said a simple "Good evening, then" by way of an opener, and not a lot else for the rest of their 90-minute set.
The previous night's gig at Glasgow's Barrowland had been hampered with frequent technical hitches but there were no such gremlins here.
The band kicked things off with Kingdom of Rust's opening track, the Krautrock-influenced Jetstream, and followed up with Snowden and Winter Hill, two tracks ground with triumphant guitar riffs and pounding drumbeats – Doves' calling card.
The next song, Rise, was greeted like an old friend by the capacity crowd, loud cheers ringing around the venue as the band set about this old favourite from Lost Souls, an album that was nominated for the 2000 Mercury Prize, but lost out to Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of the Bewilderbeast.
Flawless renditions of old classics like Here It Comes, There Goes The Fear and The Last Broadcast followed, while much of the new material aired had a Sub Sub-esque groove reminiscent of the days before they fluttered away from dance music into the more guitar-based Doves.
The biggest cheer of the night greeted the new album's title track Kingdom of Rust – with its Lancashire spaghetti western feel and Johnny Cash-type shuffle, it that may be the best thing they have ever recorded.
Truth be told, though, Doves' set was brimming with atmosphere and tension from beginning to end, and the crowd lapped up every minute.
So, can they really "do an Elbow" in 2009 and win the Mercury Prize?
Only time will tell, but, if they do, no-one in attendance at last night's gig will begrudge them their success.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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