DOVES @ Spectrum

By Katie Seline - Wrong Side of the Bed - 09/13/2005

So the problem with Doves is that they are incredible. I say this with the utmost sincerity and mean it in the most positive light possible. I saw them the last time they came to Montreal at Club Soda and they absolutely blew me away. I had just moved to Montreal a few months before and this was one of my first non-stadium shows. It’s been over three years, and that show still remains one of the best that I have ever seen in this city. It’s hard not to like Doves’ music. Each of their three albums offers something a little different, but all have that sincere sound of a band that remains just under the radar. All this to say that I had a lingering feeling in the days leading up to the show that there was a distinct possibility of disappointment -- and for the first few songs of the set, I could feel this fear becoming reality. Much to my surprise, however, Doves’ set kept getting better and better, and while the show never quite surpassed the last, it felt like the band gave everyone exactly what they came for.

I love all three of the band’s albums in different ways and while I really enjoy their latest release, Some Cities, it’s probably my least favourite one. I thus wondered if the show would be mostly comprised of the new material. In the end, the set was dominated by a lot of the stronger songs off of Some Cities -- as was to be expected -- but it felt as though more prominence was put on the older stuff from Last Broadcast and Lost Souls. It almost seemed as though the band truly enjoyed playing these songs more. Halfway through the show, it was pointed out to me that the sound was a bit off. Whether it was the acoustics or the balance, I am not sure. As the show progressed, the problem remedied itself, but it was still unfortunate that the newer music was frontloaded into the first half of the set. While still good, performances of “Snowdon” “Sky Starts Falling” and “Almost Forgot Myself” left me wanting to hear them again as something just didn’t seem quite right.

The only other negative aspect of the show was the projections. In their last show, Doves backed up the music with amazing film and video projections behind them on huge screens. While the Spectrum is one of my favourite venues in the city, their stage just isn’t quite suited for this. The band kept with tradition and did the same visual set-up for this show. However, the space they had just wasn’t big enough. Often the images got lost in the lighting and could barely be seen.

The above aside, once I got settled into the music, I really did enjoy the show. Everything just seemed to get better from beginning to end. The band played a new song “Eleven Miles Out”, as well as almost all of my favourites from all their records. They ended the show with the song that gave them their ten minutes of fame back in 2002 (“Caught by the River”), “One of These Days” from the new album, and “The Cedar Room” -- a very pleasant surprise. Even more pleasant was their encore, which opened with “M62 Song” and “Here It Comes”, sung by drummer Andy Williams. The show ended with “Some Cities” and finally an amazing performance of “There Goes the Fear”, the other hit single off Last Broadcast.

It’s really hard to go to a show with high expectations. The only other artist that I’ve seen a number of times and who has remained consistent is -- believe it or not -- Matthew Good and -- I’m almost embarrassed to mention -– Blink-182. Setting standards for the performance of a band is unrealistic as artists continuously change over time. I’ve learned this from Doves. As a band that has always remained in the shadows of Brit bands like Coldplay and Radiohead, they are perhaps content to remain just out of the spotlight. Either way, they have a good following of fans and their shows are great. It helped to see this particular show with two friends who had never seen them before, and to run into someone I knew who had. That person felt the same way as I did -- it was not as good as can be, but nonetheless really good. The other two loved it. So in the end, I guess that’s really all that matters.

[Katie rocks out your Wednesday afternoons with Wrong Side Of The Bed from 4-6pm only on]