Once again Paul Bingley won a comp to see doves live, so once again he has written a cracking write-up of the whole experience.. Its all there.. the free drinks, a silver fox sighting & some alright music..
Absolute Radio is nice. Not just for its playlists or broadcasting ability, but for the fact that if there’s ever a Doves competition to be won, it posts the details on the Doves forum. Aww bless.
On Thursday 3rd December, it did just that –announcing that two pairs of tickets for an intimate Doves session were up for grabs –but only if someone could answer a pathetically simple question. Consider it done, I thought, before thinking no more of it.
Thirty minutes later I received a phone call. I’d only gone and won again (this was the third competition in six months –lucky me). “Can you make it to London tomorrow afternoon?” the caller asked. I had no leave entitlement and didn’t fancy going sick again (it would be the third time in six months –poor me), but yes, I would, whatever the weather. So at 1pm the next day, I made my feeble excuse and skulked out of the office. A little over an hour and a half later I arrived at Soho’s House of St Barnabas.
This large Georgian building is used as a ‘House of Charity’ to support homeless people in London. To boost its funds, parts of the building are hired out for weddings, dinner parties and press launches (and intimate radio sessions too, it seems). On arrival I was ushered into the compact Monro Room and found myself alone except for two lovely waitresses and a large table of drinks. This is shaping up to be a great prize, I thought.
In no time at all I was joined by a hundred other guests. Were we all winners? The answer was no. 99% of the people there were advertising executives taking advantage of an Absolute Radio sweetener given in recognition of their business during the past year. What a perk of the job, eh?
At three o’clock we were all shepherded into the ‘Chapel’ –an ornate space built sometime in 1863. I found a position just to the right of the pulpit and immediately next to Absolute presenter and comedian, Dave Gorman. He shuffled past me and welcomed everybody before dedicating the performance to the memory of “a dear friend”. The chapel fell silent. Several uncomfortable seconds passed before Gorman added, “he’s not dead –he’s just got a good memory.”
I could see the Silver Fox’s streaked hair quiver in appreciation at the back of the Chapel before Doves were introduced. Jimi and Jez (complete with acoustic guitars and Martin Rebelski) strode a few steps through the audience to the front of the chapel. I soon realised I’d blagged a fantastic spot when Jez positioned himself directly in front of me. I then proceeded to watch it all in ultra high-definition.
Already it was poles apart from any other Doves gig I’d been to. I thought back to Bingley and the Royal Festival Hall and how ‘epic’ they had been. I then glanced around the few people in that miniature St Barnabas Chapel and felt enormously privileged to be there. Doves opened with a faultless rendition of ‘Kingdom of Rust’ before quickly moving on to ‘The Greatest Denier’.
‘There Goes the Fear’ came next but not without trouble. Towards the end of the song Jimi fluffed his chords and the band (and audience) collapsed in laughter. At one point, Martin Rebelski tinkled the theme tune to Sorry (80s comedy made famous by the line “language Timothy!”). Jimi didn’t swear, though, he just introduced the song again.
After stirring the audience with another impeccable version of ‘There Goes the Fear’, Jimi announced that the next song would be a cover version of Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas’. It proved to be a fitting hymn given the time of year and surroundings. It was also played majestically.
And that was it. Just as soon as they had arrived, so Doves left. I can’t help admitting to a tinge of disappointment that it was all over so soon. But however brief it was, it was just as absolutely fabulous.
Doves live session is due to air tonight 7pm on Absolute Radio.