The Axis, Boston, July 2001
It's simple. Ordinary, scruffy looking Manc blokes pick up guitars, not great singers either mind. Stick in a drummer and keyboardist too. The amalgamation becomes swoonworthy though, as sheets of sonic sadness wash over their listeners.
Tonight shouldn't work for Doves. Five minutes before they're due onstage the bass amp blows, forcing them to borrow the support act's equipment. Then there's the supposedly unreceptive American crowd (the show has been downsized from a 1,200 to a 400 person venue). Add Liam Gallagher's dancing twin as a stage invader and?well it all could have been so different.
But Doves, as they always have done, crawl up from the trenches fighting. From the melancholy instrumental beginnings of 'Firesuite' to the lost and warbled 'Seasong', everything is wounded, damaged, battleweary. But always so beautifully poignant and graceful.
'The Cedar Room' is Doves' 'How Soon Is Now' or 'Bittersweet Symphony'. The unmistakable opening strains of feedback arrest and draw the listener in. And it doesn't let you go until the very last echo. Just like the entire performance tonight.
So much more than typical indie navel-gazing mediocrity, Doves are life affirming. Their refusal to lay down and be ordinary, and their insistence on making the mundane transcend is their greatest ability. Forget Coldplay, Travis, Starsailor and whoever's next off the production line, this is music.
Paddy Mc Donnell