Doves look more like professors than rock stars. As Manchester’s own take the stage in front of packed house, it is clear from the outset that this is a band that prefers to let its music function as its appearance. There are no ornate costumes, pyrotechnics, or choreographed motions. In fact, the Williams brothers and co-conspirator Jimi Goodwin are just about as un-rock ‘n’ roll looking as a rock band can be. For them, this image works.
It’s the second night of the band’s first official U.S. tour and expectations are high. A bizarre, surrealistic film serves as the backdrop before Doves indulge into the opening notes of ‘Firesuite’. But wait, this doesn’t happen, at least not quite yet. Equipment failure at the most inopportune time forces a call for a new amp. The plea is answered by support act The Strokes -a New York City stalwart that has just warmed up the now impatient crowd with a version of what The Stooges might sound like in the present.
The show commences and over the course of the next hour Doves tear through sparkling cuts collected on their debut full-length with both mechanical precision and unbridled emotion. ‘Catch The Sun’ and ‘Rise’ sound much better live than on record, as the high ceiling of the vacuous theatre hall serves as a perfect net for catching extraneous melody. While ‘Cedar Room’ is clearly the best received song, however, ‘A House’ is the tune that captures Doves at their finest this evening.
As the club empties on to the beleaguered streets of the nation’s capitol, not a soul is thinking about work the next morning or any other inconveniences that life might bring. Doves have that effect. These high-flying birds of peace are capable of momentarily washing away all suffering with pleasant sheets of layered, ethereal sound. Kevin Shields would be proud.