There’s nothing more endearing than a little humility from a current headlining band in these days of ego-driven and media-fuelled endorsement of average indie rock. “Hello Portsmouth. How Ya Doin’? We would just like to thank everyone who has bought our album,” announces Doves‘ front man Jimi. Yes, respect to these guys who’ve managed to retain the perspective and grounding to realise some of the how-and-why they are where they are right now.
Musically entrancing, the effort and the energy levels of this performance were striking. Yet instrumentally, a simple format of guitar, bass and drums atmospherically enhanced with the use of synths and sequencers evoked melancholia and psychedelia simultaneouly. The dreamily triumphant There Goes The Fear, with its wonderfully bizarre video as a backdrop, acknowledges Jimi’s vocal strengths, such as they exist – but this man is no vocalist of legend.
Drawing influence from a wide range of sources on the latest album, this gig reflected the varied and all-embracing assortment of musical styles used by the band. At one point we saw Jimi’s woeful strumming silhouetted against black and white World War Two fighter jet footage. And drummer Andy Williams’ harmonica was a treat at the climax of the set when he and Jimi changed places to perform the now classic Here It Comes, alongside some of the best Wigan Casino footage ever seen.
The Doves are a paradox. Bleak yet uplifting, repetitive yet futuristic, what stands out is the humanity of these Northern Souls. They are on a roll, charming all and sundry. And we all need to remember where we come from.