Thetford Review

Good friend of the blog Paul Bingley has sent in a review of the recent Thetford Forest show which can be read below, sounds like it was a fantastic show.

When Doves were booked to perform on the same day that England launched their 2010 World Cup bid, someone at The Forestry Commission was playing with fire. That said, while the rest of the nation screamed at Robert Green for his one ugly moment, a small pocket of England’s green and pleasant land witnessed something beautiful.

It’s a testament to Doves that so many traipsed into Thetford Forest on June 12th. 3,500 may not have been the sell-out crowd that Simply Red bored the day before, but it was certainly a respectable figure given the national circumstances.

The audience was surprising in itself. Ear-muffed toddlers, George Cross-clad teenagers and even mobility-scootered pensioners all bathed in blissful ignorance of England’s shenanigans amid a grandstand of collapsible chairs, coolboxes and tartan blankets.

Essentially, everyone was in the middle of a wood for the trees. A member of the Forestry Commission climbed onstage to remind everyone exactly where their money was going. The cycle paths and so on were all expected benefit. It made for a pleasant change from the usual profiteering lapped up by most fat cat promoters.

Humility made way for The Cheek – an energetic five-piece from nearby Woodbridge. They announced themselves by playing a blustering set before looking rather hot. A number of young girls in the front row certainly thought so anyway.

A band that can’t be accused of boisterousness is Cherry Ghost. Simon Aldred’s melancholic compositions have a soothing way about them and each one beautifully complemented the surroundings. Several mature women behind me were left swooning over their Lambruscos.

A little after quarter past nine, Doves ambled onstage. The sun had just slipped below the tree line leaving a single star in the sky. It remained a focal point for the rest of the evening.

The fact is, Doves don’t thrive on spectacle. You won’t see Jimi Goodwin swinging a chainsaw above his head shouting obscenities at the Devil. But that’s what makes Doves all the more remarkable. Songs like set opener, Jetstream, have not been composed to be accompanied by fire-eating dancers and women wearing telephone hats. Like most Doves offerings, it’s an epic, multi-layered journey that’s designed to be listened to – and when delivered live, it’s utterly mesmerising.

Doves, themselves, seemed enthralled with Thetford’s response. Push Me On did just that – coaxing out every inhibition and cranking up the electricity in the process. It culminated in Goodwin blowing the order of the set by announcing the wrong song. Never mind, Pounding would just have to do. And it did – pulsatingly so.

They hurtled through The Places Between, performing a majestic version of Snowden and then painting vivid colours with the sound of Black and White Town, before whipping up a carnival atmosphere to the samba explosion of There Goes the Fear. Yet it’s a certain Spaceface that most fans would consider the evening’s crowning glory.

Written when Doves were not Doves, Spaceface is a 90s dance track that’s crossed a wide divide and landed on Planet Rock. Usually played for appreciative audiences, the track leaves Thetford Forest bouncing. Even the mature ladies didn’t care as they spilt their Lambruscos all over the Norfolk grass.

There was one more beautiful moment to come, however. Creating their own mini-moshpit next to me was a family. I was struck by the youngest child who waved his arms and nodded his head in approval at every song. When I congratulated the parents for having such a ‘with it’ son, it transpired that I was standing next our very own ‘richtdev’ and the ‘tdev’ family.

Who needs England when you’ve got beautiful moments like that?

On Friday Doves are returning to the Eden Project in Cornwall, playing with the band of the moment Mumford & Sons. If you are attending, do send in your pictures/setlist or a review just like Paul did.

Speaking of Cherry Ghost, who finally have got a website going which you can visit here. They did a live session last night for BBC’s 6 music. Check it out to hear new tracks from their new album which is out next week. How good does Black Fang sound?! Its been a bit of a wait since Thirst for Romance, but from what I have heard this record could top that, beautiful stuff.

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