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.
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.
Online culture magazine, Epilogue, this week features a lengthy and illuminating interview with Jimi.
There’s so many great tidbits in this interview, such as: Jimi wanting to host “mix tapes” at Doves’ official site, but being unable to do so, due to copyright restrictions; and how touring the U.S. actually loses them money…
Do you think more bands will do the Radiohead, In Rainbows style of release? I keep hearing that and that people will only put out singles from now on. A lot of bands get to a certain situation now, where the only time they can make any money is by touring. We come out to America, and we might even be paying out of our own pocket by 5-$10,000, just to come and play. You don’t get any tour support anymore. We obviously try to limit that to happening as least as possible because we have families and everything. There is a cutoff point where I am like, “We can not afford to do this.”
But then, it is better when you are playing in England. Yeah that’s the only place where we can get a little bit of a wage so to speak.
Andy recently spoke with L.A.-based lifestyle magazine, LA2DAY, whom have published a very short interview on their site, here.
“We feel like we’re playing our best right now,” Andy explained. The band’s live experience features arrangements of classic songs, like the closer, “Caught By The River,” which is a real treat for the true fans. “That’s half the fun of it,” Andy continued. “You don’t wanna hear exactly how it is on record, you wanna hear a live version of it.”
New York City based magazine, Sentimentalist has interviewed Jez. An interesting read:
How is the album being received?
In the UK it’s incredible. We knew that with the fourth album we had to go down avenues we haven’t gone down before, kind of push it a bit. When recording you become so abstract you never know how it’s going to be perceived. It’s not even out yet, but it’s been incredible. Our album is very much anticipated, and the reception has been heartwarming.
The online presence of Clash Magazine, ClashMusic.com, has a revealing new interview with Andy & Jez Williams, discussing free downloads, maintaining their mystique and Rick Myers’ albums artwork.
Of course, new bands are under great pressures to succeed. Do you think things have changed in this area since your first album?
J: I think it’s very tough for young, new bands nowadays. There are no development deals available. You can put a first album out and if it doesn’t do well you’re dropped, seemingly no questions asked. At the other side of the spectrum, there’s what happens if your debut does really well: this thing called the second album. It depends what kind of band you are, but I get the impression there are more bands today who will look to do their first album again –the public knows their sound, and they get it, so the band responds and makes more of the same. I’ve seen that happen enough times. But then again a band might not develop their sound ‘til the third album, and if the second one doesn’t work out they never get the chance to get that far. It’s just tough, y’know.
Jez has chosen ‘Tonight’s Today’ by Jack Penate, to be Q The Music’s Tuesday “Track Of The Day”, as part of Doves’ role as guest editors of the website this week.
Jez Williams (Doves): “I really like the new Jack Penate single Tonight’s Today. I couldn’t believe it was him. I first heard it when I was driving back from rehearsals. It was so instant I fell in love with it, I must confess I wasn’t the biggest fan of his first album but, my God, this is a tune!”
Q The Music.com (the online presence of Q Magazine) have announced that Doves will be guest editors next week:
To mark the release of Doves fourth album Kingdom Of Rust, Doves will be taking over Qthemusic.com as guest editors next week. The band – who received a four star review for their new work – “an album of life-affirming, genre-busting, career-defining majesty”, no less.
Throughout next week, the band will be choosing the ‘tracks of the day’, the band will be writing about their dream Q cover star, plus their memories of recording each of their albums. Plus we will also feature some of the band’s finest videos.
Come back from April 6 to view which tracks they choose – and more …