....Toby, Nick, Liam and I went to see Doves at the Troxy last night. That meant for me, it was a double whammy of first-times - my first seeing Doves live and my first at the Troxy. Surely a collaboration that couldn't fail? This gig was part of what has been billed a Greatest Hits tour, but then, doesn't every band play their greatest hits when playing live?!
Either way, I was hugely excited about this, particularly as Jimi Goodwin's vocals make the hairs stand on end, the spine tingle and cause a lump in the throat. I don't know what it is, but the man has soul.
The stage set up
Opening with the slow building, but gloriously powerful 'firesuite', we were underway. But something was amiss. That something seemed to be the drummer, Andy Williams, who unbeknown to himself, was slightly out of sync with the rest of the band. Annoyingly the mic on the drums also seemed to be louder than the guitars, which made no sense to me.
There was another thing - the venue. From the outside and as it filled up, the Troxy didn't disappoint, (even if the crowded bar did!) The Grade II listed art deco building is a wonderful sight - one I had imagined would suit the Doves music perfectly. But the open space proved almost too big. As though we're outside - the sound of the Doves was not yet truly filling the air.
View of the balcony and art deco detail
Amazingly too, the lighting arrangement seemed hugely below par - stark white or purple lights, that could have been the experiment of a school kid. It only picked up when the band used projections of their music videos or specially made edits on the back wall behind them, helping to evoke much more from each song.
However, after a slow start, things began to change for the better. About three or four songs in, the Troxy was awash with swooshing guitars, London-based Mancs singing their hearts out and the drumming, thankfully, sync perfect. A trio of songs, '10.03', 'kingdom of rust' and 'caught by the river' really pushed the set, the gig and the lump in my throat, to a higher place. This was the Doves I had wanted to see.
On a high, they saluted the crowd, shouted 'fuck the Tories', (to a glorious cheer) and projected 'Save 6 Music' on to the stage wall as they walked off stage left. With the crowd so pumped up, there was no other likely option but an encore, which quickly picked up where they left off. We were eating out of the palm of their hand.
They played out with 'Pounding' and then the wonderful 'spaceface', a New Order and Hacienda-tinged Madchester track, originating from the band's first incarnation, Sub Sub.
It was a wonderful way to end the evening - one that progessively grew in stature, performance and enjoyment. I'm very glad I went.