This article originally appeared on the peerless (yet now sadly defunct) Gobshout.com. It's owners are now Suburban Tarts, who should be visited post-haste...
On the way out of Brixton Academy, one thing is notable by its absence: neon. Doves are not a band that readily lend themselves to the modern fart-in-a-hurricane culture that blights the modern music scene. These guys are lifers, and their fourth album confirms their status as one of Britain’s most enduringly excellent and resolutely under-appreciated bands.
With over four years having ensued since last we heard from the Manchester miserablists, fans waited eagerly for the release of last month’s Kingdom of Rust, and they were not disappointed. Many reviewers were moved to name it their best offering so far, and they might have a point in saying this.
Certainly, the greatest compliment that can be paid to the new songs is to report that they already fit into the set and feel as though they have always slotted in just so. This, surely, is the hallmark of present and future classics.
Opening with a bombastic rendition of Jetstream, the band remind those watching that tonight is about the ensemble experience. Doves are not a band who revel in lengthy and complex guitar solos or long passages of dribbly keyboard tomfoolery, instead their songs are constructed around solid baselines and psychedelic melodies, and at no point does one man stand forward and dominate the stage. This is all about the group performance.
As we move through classics such as Snowden and Pounding, Jimi Goodwin's voice loops and soars in a way that would make Chris Martin sound like Tom Waits. The pace of the performance only lets up as dictated by the quieter songs from the new album, including an exquisite version of 10:03.
Highlights include the stomping depression of Black and White Town, played over the video-projected back drop of the song’s video. It is tempting to draw parallels between the bleak council estates depicted in the video and the current financial climate, but such a comparison would unfairly pin this timeless song.
Probably the biggest surprise is what is left out, rather than any of the inclusions. It’s a mark of how far this band have come and how imposing their back catalogue is that they can afford to leave out established crowd favourites such as The Cedar Room, The Man Who Told Everything and Catch The Sun. Where they might have fallen in the set list, new songs make sure that the audience witnesses a set brimming with quality. As the final drum beats of There Goes the Fear ring round the Academy, the place of this band in the recent history of British music is cemented by the standing ovation they receive.