Doves / Elbow / Ed Harcourt / Cooper Temple Clause

The NME Carling Awards shows conclude with a blistering performance from Doves and 2001's brightest hopes Elbow...

So, after a weekend of blistering, righteous rock’n’roll mayhem we reach the Monday night comedown. The punters streaming into this, the final NME Carling Award show, are perhaps seeking a little serenity. But they’re not gonna get it from Cooper Temple Clause, a late replacement for Scandinavian strummers Kings Of Convenience. They are bloody noisy, and the likes of ‘The Devil Walks In The Sand’ come on like a hardcore Hawkwind. So quiet’s the new loud, then? Maybe not.

Ed Harcourt follows, and his barroom boogie is pleasant enough – there’s definitely some pleasure to be gained from the realisation that this 23-year-old from Sussex doesn’t seem to know whether he wants to be Jeff Buckley or Billy Joel. Such stylistic schizophrenia is hugely entertaining at times, especially when technical problems force him to ditch his guitar during a version of forthcoming single ‘Something In My Eye’ – he simply resorts to bashing it out on the old joanna. Impressive – and not too loud.

Elbow are a completely different proposition from their live shows of last year. Less winsome and delicate, more muscular and mad for it. Guy Garvey and co. are mainlining confidence at the moment. ‘Any Day Now”s trip-hop trauma still tingles and soothes, ‘Newborn’ rocks in the most low-key manner possible, while a blistering run through the angular art-rock of ‘Bitten By The Tailfly’ seals the deal. Anthems aplenty, it looks like 2001 will be a spaced odyssey for them.

Doves receive a rapturous welcome, and the blistering opener ‘New York’ suggests we might well be witnessing a classic show of sorts. But the gremlins do not discriminate, and soon the headliners are being dogged by the same problems which have afflicted the other artists at varying times this evening. Later, frontman Jimi Goodwin will tell us: “This is the worst gig we’ve ever done.” Really?

This statement seems a little harsh in the wake of a coruscating run-through ‘The Cedar Room’, a cracked, plaintive ‘A House’ and the hugely uplifting ’45’, a new tune which pays tribute to the halcyon days of northern soul, complete with the almost insanely catchy “Follow my heart, follow my soul” chorus. This and the aforementioned ‘New York’ hints that the follow-up to the occasionally portentous ‘Lost Souls’ material will be more direct and immediate – no bad thing on tonight’s evidence.

So Doves close the NME Carling Awards’ week of music, and they do so by reactivating the thunderous bleeps of ‘Space Face’, a reminder of the group’s previous incarnation as dance popsters Sub-Sub. It’s celebratory, it’s joyous, it’s LOUD. But who came here tonight for a bit of peace and quiet?

Alan Woodhouse

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