From the outside, it does not look very assuming. In fact it looks just plain small. But the Bowery Ballroom, located in New York City’s Lower East Side, is one of the premier concert venues in the entire tri-state region. And it was here that one of the top shows for the month of March played when the Manchester, UK trio the Doves came to town on Mar. 15.
To promote their new album “Some Cities,” the band performed with plenty of sweeping guitars, symphonic lament and earnest emotions. Opening for them on this night was another British band called the Magic Fingers, whose sound combines the essence of 1960s era California pop with the signature jangle of Britpop. They can also be heard on a track of the new Chemical Brothers album.
It was just after 10:15 p.m. when the Doves, featuring Jimi Goodwin on lead vocals and bass and twin brothers Jez and Andy Williams (guitar and drums respectively), took the stage. With a huge roar from the sold-out crowd at the Bowery, the band opened with “Pounding” and “Words” off their 2002 album “The Last Broadcast.”
At these types of shows, there are no rowdy fans nor are there mosh pits. People come for one reason and one reason only: the music. After the band performed the first of six tracks that they would play off the new album, “Almost Forgot Myself,” Jimi traded in his bass for an acoustic guitar for “Sea Song,” a cut from the bands first album “Lost Souls,” which drew a big reaction from the crowd. “Where We’re Calling From,” “N.Y.,” “Caught By the River” and “Last Broadcast” followed in rapid succession.
By this point, the crowd was completely into the show, with everybody nodding along with the music, some with their fists in the air. Goodwin that night was suffering from the flu and throughout the set had to keep taking Chloraseptic (a throat spray). If he had not indicated that he had the flu, then we probably wouldn’t have even noticed. His vocals were right on target, Andy’s drumming was solid as ever and Jez’s guitar hooks were crisp and precise all throughout the night. The lush arrangements of their records were capably recreated throughout their performance as the band proved themselves to be one of the best live acts out there.
Heading toward the end of their set, the band pulled several tracks off the new album (“Sky Starts Falling,” “Snowden,” “One Of These Days,” “Ambition”). The highlight of the entire night was probably their absolutely blinding, show-stopping performance of “Snowden,” my favorite song on the new album. “Cedar Room,” a very popular track from their first LP finished up the set. The roar following the performance was deafening and remained that way until the band returned for the encore.
Highlights of the three song encore included “Here It Comes” (which featured Andy on vocals as Goodwin went back and took over drum duties) and the final song for the evening, “There Goes the Fear.” By the time the show had ended, the crowd exploded and the roar was deafening. After well over 70 minutes of music, the Doves had indeed made an unforgettable impression on the audience.
However, all of this led me to ask myself, “do the Doves matter?” After all, they’re not as earth-shattering and boundary-breaking as a band like Radiohead, nor are they as hyped as the Pete Doherty led Libertines (or Babyshambles, the band Pete founded when the Libertines fired him). The fact of the matter is that no, the Doves are not the most important band creating music right now, but they still may be the best. Their show at the Bowery Ballroom proved this completely.