Doves, Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 13th DecemberThere was a real buzz about the Olympia tonight. It seemed like every music hack, ticket tout and indie kid in the City braved the December frostiness, eyes all twinkly and noses red with the chill, to see Manchester's Doves. Hence the relatively small theatre was stuffed to the gills.
Warm up band, The Thrills, were missed by many, like myself, who forgot that Olympia gigs start earlier than most (as they're usually followed by Midnight at the Olympia). The Thrills are the Dublin band that brought you the well-intentioned, but over-rated, 'Santa Cruz (you're not that far)'. The hype surrounding it would have you believe they're the new Beach Boys. Perhaps they have more to offer, but I wasn't due to find out this night.
Doves hit the stage soaring with the enormously popular 'Pounding', which has the sound of a real stadium filler. It's a gorgeous tune, with a driving guitar line, tingly keyboard arpeggios and, well, a pounding rhythm. From there, it's onto 'There goes the fear', the first single released from their second album, "The Last broadcast" and, live, it comes complete with mental drums at the end. The Manchester trio are a likeable presence on stage: humble and gracious. They don't do bullshit, instead choosing to just get on with it, but not without a nod to their Irish cousins in the crowd.
This gig was not without flaws though. While Dove's more energetic songs work well ('Here it comes' and 'New York', for example), many of their moodier numbers, though well received, don't quite stick. 'Sea song', from their debut album "Lost souls", has always been one of my favourites, but live it sounds like it's never going to end. Ditto, 'The man who told everything'. However, these weaker moments were overshadowed by some truly great ones. The title track of their current album sounds desolate and sad on CD, but is a jangly and rather joyful affair live. And the very sweet 'The Cedar room' demands an audience as adoring as this.
The boys displayed a playful side when they treated us to a revamped version of their '90s hit (as dance outfit SubSub), 'If there ain't no love (then there ain't no use)'. Minus vocals and pumped up with grinding guitars, Doves suddenly come over all New Order. But then again, the Manchester group was fraternising with Sumner and Co back in the days of Factory Records and Tony Wilson. I'm reminded of The Super Furry Animals who often let their love of dance music get the better of them on stage, displaying an entirely different dimension to their talents and leaving you grinning and shaking your head in disbelief.
This the final gig of their current tour. But if there's any justice, the rising Doves will be headlining Slane next summer instead of appearing as the only talent at the bottom of a dodgy line up.