Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Live In Concert: Doves 5/26/09

I feel sorry for those who don't know Doves. I feel even sorrier for the ones that don't get it. When they're on, their music is a spiritual experience on par with total rapture. How artists can cause a listener to feel sadness, beauty, gloom, and hope at the same time and within the same 5 minute song is a miracle brought only by God, or the Muses. Think about that. The literal sinking and soaring of your soul in a single, short journey.

Doves started out as more of a techno outfit, producing dance tracks in Manchester under the name Sub Sub to some local acclaim and success. After their studio burned down with all their stuff in it, they picked up proper instruments and found a groove symbolic with that fire. Dance music going up in flames and burning to a crisp might be the best way to describe their music. When Coldplay said "a rush of blood to the head" they might have been talking about their fellow countrymen and label mates.

So, why all the hyperbole? Because it can be that good. Because their song "Rise", off their first album Lost Souls, is my #5 all-time favorite song and, possibly, number 1 in terms of emotional response. Because few modern bands are imbued with this power. And because they're still fairly unknown among the general American population (though far from underground nobodies).

Notice I said "can be". When they're on, they set the bar for the power and weight pop music can carry. When they're off, as they have been on their last two albums, (the first two are near perfect) it sucks more because of what could have been. I've seen them live twice now and something is occurring to me: The best songs on the albums miss the mark live, while the lesser material really takes shape in front of an audience, which leads me to believe the studio is a crucial place for this band to get where it needs to go (or, rather, where I need them to go). They seem to live or die by studio trickery. It goes back to that dance music background. Groove and mood are their driving force. Production can either capture and organize that raw energy, or stifle it.

So, how was the show? It was pretty good. I heard several songs I was hoping for and not sure I'd get like "Words" (one of my favorite running songs. My pace and this beat are one), "Black and White Town" (one of the only songs I even remember from their last record), "There Goes The Fear" (one you might know if you heard it) and "Pounding" (the rallying cry for the battle at the end of the world and if you don't believe me, click that link and take up your arms!). They also played "Rise", but at, what felt like, twice the speed, thus ruining my ability to achieve total liftoff. I suppose I should be grateful I heard it at all, but just tossing off my favorite tune left me wanting. Click on the link for a live version that is a full two minutes shorter than the original which proves my point.

AND, they didn't play two staples that were sorely sorely missed. "Catch the Sun", the first song of theirs to make a splash in America, was nowhere to be found, as was "The Cedar Room" a live staple for years and the song most often yelled out by the audience this night. Skipping two of your fan's favorites doesn't make any sense. Doves create music that washes all over you completely. Omissions like these felt like a cold shower.

Still, I love them. I want everyone to love them. The good stuff is, pretty much, better than anything ever. I hold out hope that it can all be that good and will remain devoted as long as their is hope. Luckily, I have every reason to feel that way. They deserve it.


Marilyn said...

It's great to hear from you, Jon. Love this post; it's so well written (as usual) and expressive. I listened to Rise and really liked it. Thanks for shedding some light on a group that means so much to you.
Can't wait to see you Thursday night. Happy Birthday to Georgia today!!!
Love you all, Mom

RR said...

first of all... how can you write about this and not mention that pounding made it on to your wedding soundtrack.

pounding changed me... still does every time I hear it.

leave at sunrise...slip by the ocean. i don't mind if we never come home at all.