The reviews keep coming, I think Music OMH enjoyed it..
Doves’ gig at the Roundhouse, part of the BBC’s short-lived, but increasingly influential Electric Proms series, was backed by the 20-strong London Bulgarian Choir. Their dramatic and sometimes otherworldly Gregorian chants lifted much of the Mancunians’ sometimes plodding output, although even their presence couldn’t save a few of the newer tracks from dragging.
Perhaps it says something about the band that their older songs – in particular the epic Cedar Room or the rarely-performed Catch The Sun (played only, according to Jimi Godwin, because the choir “forced us to”) are the ones that lend themselves best to off-kilter operatics. While newer tracks like Winter Hill, The Storm and Jetstream were fine enough, Doves didn’t try their hand at changing the songs to suit the choir, meaning that half the stage was too often taken up with a group of slightly awkward looking Bulgarians – a sad state of affairs for all concerned.
Goodwin’s men have developed – fairly or not – a reputation for delivering plodding meat and potatoes rock. While not in the Stereophonics mould yet, there are a couple of lulls (particularly The Greatest Denier and 10.03) that with a little more imagination both with their setlist and with the choir could have sent the concert stratospheric. The exclusion of The Last Broadcast’s gospel-tinged Satellites is a real misstep, and once the Bulgarian choir have demonstrated their awe-inspiringly powerful vocal range in a couple of solo folk songs (“This one is about falling for someone from another village” explains the choir leader, charmingly) the concert felt a little short on the soar.
Whist the Evening Standard wasn’t so impressed, the Metro seemed to love it..
Metro: Doves are a delight at BBC Electric Proms
Last night saw Doves become the latest to give their back catalogue a new lick of sonic paint – with the vocal assistance of the fantastic London Bulgarian Choir.
Not that Doves need much help to make a venue-filling noise; they’ve quietly become past masters at building anthemic walls of sound.
This gig was certainly not lacking in moments of arms-in-the-air rapture – in fact, as it reached its climax, it could have been mistaken for either an Evangelist rally or an underarm deodorant commercial, as the Roundhouse (London’s finest venue by a country mile) turned into a sea of hands reaching for the heavens.
If anything, the London Bulgarian Choir were, perhaps, a little underused – not featuring on many songs, and providing little more than (albeit awesome) backing vocals on some others.
But when they were given a starring role and fully integrated into the songs, the effect was spectacular – never more so than on profoundly epic version of The Cedar Room, the band’s second ever single, sounding no less majestic almost a decade on.
Whilst I wasn’t there, I have watched the BBC footage. I reckon the Metro review is spot on. As always with these one off shows, there will be moments that work, and some that don’t. Never been a big fan of Catch the Sun, but it sounded great last night.
Highlights for me was the stunning Birds Flew Backwards, Greatest Denier & Kingdom Of Rust. The Cedar Room probably has never sounded so good. Jez’s guitar never sounded good to my ears. The choir singing those high backing vocals was majestic.
Despite the duff ending, I also thought The Storm sounded great. A great night all round by all accounts. Again I wasn’t there, so I can’t really say. But watching the footage, it certainly looks like one of the best shows they’ve ever played. Would look great on DVD..
All things considered, last night was a good for one multiculturalism and dear old Doves did their bit by inviting the 30-strong London Bulgarian Choir to join them for a BBC Electric Prom that came frustratingly close to being one of 2009’s great concert events.
The two camps were a delightful contrast: one being badly dressed postâ€‘punks with instruments to hand and two No 1 albums under their belts; the other neatly turned out traditionalists with only their voices to share and a CD available only on their web site or at concerts.
That, though, was as bold and brilliant as it got, for (excluding their Doves-free slots that book-ended the encore) as choir were immediately relegated to the role of multi-layered backing vocalists. Even here though, on Kingdom Of Rust where they added Ennio Morricone-esque gravitas or Catch the Sun where they were as uplifting as Polyphonic Spree, the Bulgarians made already fine songs even better, transforming the good to great, the earthbound to celestial.
More frustrating still, for too much of the set, the choir had no part to play and were marooned at the back of the stage in darkness, not underused but simply unused.
A cross fertilisation of northern soul with east European heart brought the third installment of the BBC Electric Proms 2009 to a shimmering euphoric climax tonight with Doves and the London Bulgarian Choir.
Resplendent in traditional Bulgarian costume the choir brought elements of vocal percussion to some of Doves most loved tracks expanding the scope of the songs and adding another dimension to the Manchester band’s rich layered sound.
Composer Avshalom Caspi, who was responsible for arranging the tracks for the 40 strong choir told 6 Music before the show that Doves and the Bulgarian choir are uniquely suited to a collaboration:
Doves were also joined onstage by north Indian c
lassical musician Baluji Shrivastav for the track Birds Flew Backwards which added another more delicate element to the mix. The unique phrasing techniques used by the choir perfectly enhanced Doves soaring post Dance melodies, creating real moments of transcendental beauty on tracks like Kingdom of Rust and The Last Broadcast, and on final track There Goes the Fear pushed the band’s famous supersonic Samba wig out to a new zone.
Doves played the Roundhouse tonight as part of the Electric Proms Festival.
Black & White Town
Kingdom of Rust
Catch The Sun
Birds Flew Backwards (with Baluji Shrivastav)