On Friday night, Jo and I joined my friends Jimmy and Kev for the Doves front man first solo show in London. I must confess, having brought tickets for the show, before actually hearing the album, Odludek, I came to the gig with some reservations. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t given the album enough attention, but only a couple of tunes have really jumped out at me so far.
That being said, such concerns seemed a long way away once we had all met up in Upper St’s Library, drunk some drinks, eaten some Thai food and made our way over to the venue. The venue itself was an intimate little affair and, interestingly, seemed far from sold out. There was lots of space to move, this wasn’t because the support band was on either.
Anyway, we all did our toilet visits, hit the bar and found ourselves a good spot on the floor. Goodwin arrived with a drummer, guitarist and keyboard player in tow. It was kind of like the Doves, but not. I’m not sure whether the opener, Terracotta Warrior, would make a Doves setlist… actually, no, that’s not fair. It is a good song and was a confident opening to the gig.
And then… basically, things get a little hazy for me. Hey, it’s been a long weekend and Friday night feels like a lifetime ago now. I know, because I’ve just looked on Setlist FM that Didsbury Girl was the next track and that my mate Jimmy loves this one because it’s the one that most resembles the Doves for him. Oh! Whiskey was next apparently and was enjoyable enough, but not enjoyable enough to hear again. Which was, in my opinion, a fatal error during the encore.
Just to confuse things for us, Goodwin played a few selections from his Doves days, including Snowden and a beautifully rendered version of The Last Broadcast. Much lalaaalalalaing ensued after that one. Another Doves tune exhumed was Sulphur Man. Kev loves this one but I’d be hard pressed to tell you why, Jo has a text on her phone describing it as the “most nondescript Doves tune ever.”
But there Jimi was, during the encore, turning down requests for Doves tunes as this wasn’t a “Doves tribute band”, choosing instead to play songs we’d already heard. It left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth, really.
Which is a shame because in songs like Keep My Soul In Song, Lonely At The Drop and the terrific Man V Dingo, Jimi proved that he is not only a more than decent songwriter, but a good performer too. For me, if he was going to revisit tunes already played, either Lonely… or Man V Dingo would have been a lot more fun than the ones he did. Well, either that, or play some of the songs on the album that were left untouched. It’s not like we went there hoping for a Doves tribute- well, not all of us anyway (special mention to the guy who got chatting to Jimmy and told him his favourite Doves song is Pounding- Pounding! Why?).
Unfortunately, the encore turned a solid 7-8/10 gig into one that was a bit more like a 6. I’m tempted to say that the highlight of my night was a post gig sighting of a number 19 bus on Upper St. I shouted out “Sing, Michael, sing!”and we strolled into a pub to hear Rudie Can’t Fail being played over the pub’s PA*. That would, perhaps, be overly harsh on Jimi, but it’s difficult not to feel that an overwhelmingly supportive crowd were left a little disappointed on Friday night.
*If you don’t get the “Rudie” reference, it’s okay, but you need to listen to The Clash’s London Calling album more.