Better late than never eh? The Independent posted up thier review of the Elecetric Proms show late last week:
Doves released their fourth album, Kingdom of Rust, earlier this year, and it has been widely hailed their best yet. Its bittersweet lyrics and sweeping melodies, delivered in epic rock songs, are not far from their first album, Lost Souls, that won them a loyal fan base in 2000. That’s not to say their music hasn’t developed –it just hasn’t flirted with fads.
Until now it seems. For this performance, Doves were joined by the London Bulgarian Choir, whose eerily beautiful harmonies lifted Doves’ soaring music to new heights, right into the Roundhouse’s exposed rafters.
Doves opened with two serviceable tracks, but things took off when the LBC joined them on “Firesuite”, creating a dense, dissonant soundscape that added cinematic heft. When Doves frontman Jimi Goodwin announced “they’re giving me tingles”, he spoke for us all.
Once again Paul Bingley has written a cracking review for the blog, this time of the Roundhouse Electric Proms show.
The time had come. At seven o’clock the doors opened and hundreds of eager souls piled into the Roundhouse. A few of us streamedupstairs to Torquil’s Bar. Several people were already clusteredaround its doorway queuing for a drink. Asweinched through,my eyes lit up. Inside and to the rightwere Jarvis Cocker and Steve Lamacq having a chinwag. Florence (minus the Machine) scampered pastandlovingly hugged a bystander.In the background, one of The Magic Numberssmiled broadly at no-one in particular. Wasthis a dream or were wewitnessing some kind ofsurrealQ magazine cover shoot?
It was neither.Just like us, they wereall here to rock withDoves.It wouldn’tjustbe Doves, either. No, this time around the band wouldbe joined onstage by the London Bulgarian Choir.An odd combination, yes, but this wasthe BBC Electric Proms. So here we were, 3,000 people convened togetheron day three,just 24 hours after a resounding performance by Dizzee Rascal and the day before Dame Shirley Basseywas due to clear her pipes. Thankfully ithad beenages sinceRobbie Williamsrolled off the stage.
My wife and I (together with the board’s very own Baldilocks) left the bar where Jarvis Cocker was now spinning 6Music’s wheels of steel, and made our way to the main space.We found ourselves a spot very close to the centre of the stage andjust behind a really tall bloke. That’s the power of Doves –only they can pull you away from a sight like Jarvis Cocker DJing in a half-empty bar towards the back of someone’s head.
First onto the stage was a group of wrinkly pensioners led by a short bald man in a pink shirt. They immediately launched into something I recognised –‘Shot by Both Sides’. This was Magazine, purveyors of “genuine old world charm” as singer Howard Devoto eloquentlyput it.
After they left the stage having played a stonking set, the really tall bloke(clearly a Magazine fan) briefly moved away from the barrier. I made a beeline, dragging my wife with me.Graciously he allowed us to remain there on the proviso that we look after his jacket which he’d draped over the barrier.If the truth be known, I would have taken the man out to dinnerhad he asked. That was how good our position was –just left of Jimi’s mic stand and slap bangin the front row.
It was all shaping up to be somuch more thanyour average gig.The Roundhouse is mightily impressive –big, round and musicallyhistoric. There were hulking cameras positioned in a variety of locations,bright searching spotlights bathing the stage and a certain Edith Bowman high on a balcony facing a dazzlingwhite light and chewing on a microphone.It was obvious that the BBC was in town and it was all becoming rather exciting.
In the darkness at the rear of the stage,the choir (resplendent in their Bulgarian costumes)quietly climbedonto a semi-circular raised platform and waited. Then the band arrived. ‘Roundhouse man,” Jez remarked,“top.” Enough said. Opening with ‘Snowden’(a break from the usual ‘Jetstream’), they movedonto a flawless ‘Winter Hill’ before Jimi introduced the choir and then announced ‘Firesuite’.Goosebumps at the ready…
For those of us overly familiar with this song’s arrangement, to hear it played with such a radically different vocal accompaniment (and in such a setting) was breathtaking andutterlybeguiling. The thing that really captivated me, though, were the smiles of the choir. This was how music really should be –simply making people happy.
Those watching seemed slightly more restrained. I could only surmise that it was because of the cameras(and the threat that anything they did shout would be taken down and recorded for posterity). It didn’t stop one woman, though. “Hello mum!” she screamed during one particularly quiet moment. “Spaceface Jimi!” I shouted in retaliation. Needless to say my request fell on deaf ears. Judging by the crowd, tonight wasn’t going to be the night for that one.
The old favourites were there, though. ‘10:03′, ‘Pounding’ and ‘Black and White Town’ to name but three. Even the spurned‘Catch the Sun’ made a spectacular return. But it was the reappearance of ‘The Storm’ which surprised me most. It lent itself perfectly to a choir and I thought it was performed beautifully, especially by Jez, whose voice was pitch-perfect throughout.
None of the band, it must be said, put a foot (or note) wrong. Jimi, as ever, performed brilliantly. Andy continues to provide the perfect beat whatever the song, and Martin Rebelski quietly brings out the atmospherics. But it was the addition of the choir thatofferedsomething completely different.
The backing vocals on ‘Kingdom of Rust’ were haunting and really complimented the sweeping beauty of the song. ‘The Last Broadcast’ sounded even more gorgeouswhen accompanied by so many voices. In effect, the choirsprinkledthe music with some ethereal moments –none more so than during ‘Birds Flew Backwards’.
In all honesty I’ve never been a big fan of the song. It’s nice, but that’s about it. But when you mix in a folk choir and some Indian instruments,then it becomes something else altogether –something beautiful. I don’t mind admitting that I was moved to tears.
Dignity was briefly restored with ‘The Cedar Room’. Thanks again to the choir, though, it was the first time I’d ever found myself clapping along to its beat.There’s only one word for the performance of this songat that moment –phenomenal.
It was left to crowd favourite ‘There Goes the Fear’ to bring down the curtain on anunforgettable evening.But what should have been your regular run-of-the-mill set closer will now go down in history as the moment that I was caught on national TV boppinglike an epileptic cat. That’ll teach me for standing so close to Doves.
Snowden Winter Hill Firesuite* 10:03* Pounding Jetstream The Storm* Black and White Town Sea Song Greatest Denier Kingdom of Rust* Last Broadcast* Catch The Sun* Mmorf Elenku** Zalibih Si Edno Libe (with Baluji Shrivastav)** Birds Flew Backwards (with Baluji Shrivastav)* Cedar Room* The Fear* Kaval Sviri**
*Doves with LBC. **LBC
James also posted a couple anecdotes in response to the Metro review I posted yesterday here.
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 take to the stage tonight at the London Roundhouse as part of the BBC Electric Proms festival.
If you are attending, have a great time! For those asking, band are due off stage at 10:15pm. Plenty time for an after show drink or two, or make that last train home. If you wont be there, full live coverage of the show from 4pm on BBC 6 Music.
Expect full coverage of the show on the blog tomorrow night after the gig and over the weekend no doubt. If you are attending and want to send in a review/photos etc then just send it over using the email address on the right.