Tuesday 17 March 2009

Doves, Coventry Kasbah

Many suspected that the Doves may have flown the nest for good but no, they have taken flight once more and tonight come home to roost in Coventry on St Patricks Day as part of a six date mini tour. Enough of the bird jokes.

Of course once we had tickets for Coventry they announced a bigger tour and come to Nottingham. No matter, this is the place to see them. A new venue for me, pre-new single, pre-new album, we get to hear everything first.

I'd never heard of the Kasbah and this turns out because it is the former Colosseum which was well known and affectionately known as the ‘Colly’, now there’s an unfortunate nickname. It was somewhere I always wanted to visit for a gig. The place underwent a £1 million refit in 2007 and now has a Moroccan theme, lanterns, ornate mirrors, velvet drapes.... Hmmm and you though theme bars died in the 90's. Luckily it still has the Colosseum name emblazoned across its roof which will be handy when it reverts, as these places usually do, to its better known moniker sometime in the future.

The problem with going somewhere new and arriving late, as we do tonight, due to the 50 mile journey to get there, is knowing where the good viewing spots are. We head up to the already crowded balcony just at the support band, the Invisible are finishing up. The first support band we've missed in some time. Amazingly someone in front of us chooses this moment to vacate their vantage point and we slip in. Perfect timing.

They make us wait forty-five minutes before Jimi Goodwin and twin brothers Jez and Andy Williams make their entrance. I suppose after going missing for four years, what’s another forty-five minutes.

A shout goes up 'f***in legend' from a voice in the crowd before they even start. No pressure then. The place is packed, allaying any fears that time and perhaps their public may have moved on or that perhaps Elbow had nipped in to steal their thunder. Jimi Goodwin admits 'It’s been a long time but we're back now'.

Then 'Jetstream' fizzes out from the stage, a free download sampler from the new album, which features guitarist Jez Williams on lead vocals. The Doves have landed. Sorry I said no more bird jokes.

Judging by the reception it gets, a fair number of folks have obtained the track. Then it's time for the awesome 'Snowden'.

Something I’ve noticed recently is that guitarists seem to be trying to outdo each other, to see who can have the most foot pedals, well they can call the contest off right now because Jez has clearly won.

They alternate tracks from the new album: - 'Winter Hill', 'The Greatest Denier', '10:03' with classic oldies such as 'Rise' from Lost Souls, a terrific 'Words' from Last Broadcast and then there's 'Pounding' from the same record, which... well... pounds.

It's all good stuff, though there's a slight lack of momentum with them mixing in the newer less known material and also perhaps less emotion as the band choose to say very little to the crowd throughout. It's a workman like performance, although Jimi does claim to be a bit under the weather. Introducing the new songs to us would have been nice, songs which are unfamiliar to most.

The new single and title track of the new album 'Kingdom Of Rust' is actually introduced and sounds good. Twice Mercury Music Prize nominated for their first two albums, could it be third time lucky. It is followed by a funked up 'Black And White Town', a song inspired by their home town of Wilmslow.

‘The Outsiders’ turns out to be the best of the new stuff and really rocks, then after an excellent ‘Caught By The River’ they are gone.

I don't much like gigs where if you jot down a band's most famous sixteen or so tracks before you go, you will effectively have the set list for the evening. Surprises and disappointments are very much a part of everyday life and I like my gigs to be the same.

So this is my sort of gig because Doves are a band that are prepared to pluck stuff off obscure albums and singles to please the hardcore fans, not just play what everyone expects them to. Not that I'm Doves hardcore or anything but it’s good to have a challenge when trying to assemble the set list afterwards.

Cue the acoustic b-side ‘Northenden’ to kick off the encore. They also dish out the disappointment with no 'Cedar Room'. Instead we get their debut single from 1999 ‘The Here it Comes’ with Andy on vocals and Jimi behind the drum kit. ‘Last Broadcast’ follows and then they finish up with a corking ‘There Goes The Fear’. Top night.

The band's fourth album, Kingdom of Rust, is released on April 6, 2009. The title track "Kingdom of Rust" will be the album's first single on March 30th.

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