Doves : Seattle Showbox Nightclub

Doves : Seattle Showbox Nightclub

Doves kick off their US tour with new material...

The initial signs tonight are not good. Firstly, Jimi Goodwin steps up to the microphone and breathes a sigh of relief – the sparse crowd for support act the Webb Brothers has suddenly been swelled out by a host of new arrivals. “Thank God, it filled up”, he says. For the first few songs, Doves look at each other in puzzlement, as something is obviously not right. Feedback blasts out in all the wrong places. The film projections behind the band are out of focus, turning into a blurry mess. “There are a few snags here and there” declares Jimi.

First date of their North American tour, and the machine is definitely rusty. Jimi and crew have spent the last few months in the studio working on the follow up to ‘Lost Souls’ and it shows. At times they look like stunned deer, stuck in the headlights, not knowing where to run. Playing ‘Rise’ the band verge on the brink of their renowned grandeur, but it’s still rather rough around the edges. And new song, ‘Darker’ almost seems like a demo-in-progress.

But then something suddenly clicks. As Doves launch into ‘Catch The Sun’, all four of them just put their heads down, shake off the cobwebs and blast out the tune. Suddenly they seem like a whole new band, and from that point on they just shoot for the stars. The guitars slice through the air on ‘The Man Who Told Everything’, ‘A House’ is positively haunting, and ‘Lost Souls’, with the backdrop of Nico footage finally emerging from the gloom, becomes a psychedelic masterpiece.

Of the new songs Doves debut tonight, ‘Satellite’ is the pick of the bunch. With a huge floor-tom beat driving the song, it seems almost Spector-esque, a veritable wall of sound. And just when you think it can’t get much better, ‘The Cedar Room’ is pure bliss – an epic, swirling masterpiece. From its start as a trainwreck in waiting, the show has suddenly become a positively spiritual experience. “We’re doing OK, yeah?” asks Jimi.

As Doves encore with ‘Here It Comes’, at the back of the room one fan dances alone. Totally immersed in the song, he writhes away blissfully, oblivious to the outside world. Indulging themselves, Doves kick into ‘Hit The Ground’, another new song. And this one may be their most rock moment yet – a rollicking piano line that echoes ‘Werewolves Of London’, a driving beat that propelled The Modern Lovers, a fuzz bass from The Stooges finest hour. It may be new territory for them, but it only increases Doves‘s epic scope.

Propelling the Sub Sub tune ‘Spaceface’ to a soaring peak, Doves once again prove they are one of the great bands of the new millennium. 2001: a space odyssey. And Doves are the soundtrack.

Jason Reynolds