Thursday, June 4
So count these dudes among those beating U2 at their own game in the last decade or so, i.e. the Soaring, Grandiose, Unapologetically Bombastic Arena Rock game, the sort of anthemic, overdriven guitar rock that’s actually a pretty good fit for an airport terminal. Every song an epic, every chorus a budding soccer-stadium sing-a-long. Except Doves are (relatively) unassuming about it, affable and casual Brits who take their time (their new Kingdom of Rust was nearly a half-decade in the making) and don’t have much in the way of an agenda (I own all four of their albums and have no idea what a single song on any of them is actually about). And yet they have an enormous projection screen behind them, the size of the Terminal 5’s entire back wall, so as to regale us with arty videos of planes taking off, rainy/pastoral views out car windows, Chicago architecture (?), and the impotent rages of disaffected British yoof.
“Black and White Town,” off 2005’s Some Cities, is the best one-track Doves intro probably, rousing and insistent and stately and polite. It goes over huge here, amid a packed house suggesting I have underestimated these boys, underestimated the appeal of the vaguely gospel-ish “Caught by the River,” the widescreen shoegaze swirl of “Rise.” Kingdom of Rust has its moments, particularly “Compulsion,” an uncharacteristically vicious, slinky, bass-driven thing that sounds like Blondie’s “Rapture” gone Britpop, except they don’t play it, and the new tunes they do play wobble a bit rhythmically, water-tight at best: Just because what Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. do is simple doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy. But what does hold together hits harder, and frontman Jimi Goodwin has an easy croon that’s powerful without veering into pompous. He even plays drums for awhile so the real drummer can play harmonica. The result isn’t exactly raging, but it ain’t impotent either.
In 140 Characters or Less: Not better than the real thing, but a better facsimile of the real thing than the woeful recent facsimiles of the real thing the real thing has lately attempted to pass off as the real thing.