I wasn't going to write about the Doves show at the Croc on Wednesday. I planned to go just as a fan. Honestly, sometimes the reporting gets the best of me, and I can't enjoy those spine-tingly moments as I'm trying to cache the set list and come up with witty words to describe the aural experience.
But as I walked out of the Croc, I knew it would be a disservice to not quantify this amazing show. The last time I saw Doves was in 2001 at the Showbox, a show so wickedly loud that my eardrums took a couple of days to recover.
This Croc show was the "official Sasquatch pre-party" (Doves play on Sunday out at the Gorge). Just getting the tickets to the sardine-packed show felt like a victory. Add that this was my first visit to the newly polished Croc and the excitement was unparalleled. Surely, I thought, surely I will be disappointed. Surely I was wrong.
Doves played an approx 90-minute set comprising new and old material, with much more of a slant toward the older catalog than I'd expected. Jimi Goodwin was the sole vocalist for the bulk of the set, as guitarist Jez Williams had lost his voice. (Drummer Andy Williams did take lead vox on "Here it Comes" as Goodwin moved to the drum kit and sang the hook.)
The band seemed slightly reserved on stage without a lot of banter aside from a few off-color comments from Goodwin. I couldn’t tell if he was truly ruffled or just toying with the crowd. He commented more than a few times about the incessantly blue on-stage lights—he apparently preferred a different color. In the middle of the acoustic-guitar driven "Northenden," he picked on the balcony crowd, sarcastically imitating their non-stop chatterboxing. He also taunted the audience for not singing along during the same song. "Are you Mancunian?" he asked wryly. "Too cool for school…"
Musically, Doves were pristine. Highlights were the mesmerizing "Sea Song," accompanied by a surfing video lulling slowly on the back-stage screen to hypnotic effect. "Black and White Town" strikingly recalled Martha & the Vandellas' R&B classic "Heat Wave," further illustrating that these Manchester lads never shy too far from their influences (Think the heavy gospel feel of "Satellites" and the Warren Zevon-laden "Hit the Ground Running.") At the conclusion of "There Goes the Fear," each band member grabbed a percussion instrument for a raucous ending, sending us off into the night.
The set list (thanks to dovesmusic.blogspot.com):
Almost Forgot Myself
The Greatest Denier
Kingdom Of Rust
Black And White Town
Caught By The River
Here It Comes
The Last Broadcast
There Goes The Fear