DOVES at Kool Haus, September 9. Tickets: $22. Attendance: 1,500. Rating: NNN
The Doves will never win a personality contest for their live performances, but at least they know how boring they are.The Manchester threesome plus a touring keyboardist played a stark Kool Haus stage Monday as though they'd been nailed to the floor, interacting with the crowd only when someone shouted out a request for someone else's song. Thankfully, the band had the foresight to screen some homemade movies behind them.
The films, ranging from spy-type thrillers to footage of northern soul dandies tearing up the Wigan Casino, often synched up perfectly with the music and were far more interesting than the band itself, making the exercise a bit like watching television with a searing soundtrack.
It wasn't as though the Doves were bad -- just the opposite, in fact. Songs from the group's two albums were perfectly played, with most of the album's intricate arrangements and studio tricks replicated through the magic of backing tapes. Even a muddy mix couldn't dull the thump of songs like There Goes The Fear and Words.
It's just that for a band who make epics their business, you expect more. Fellow Mancunians Oasis are hardly the most entertaining performers, but at least they rise to the occasion to give their triumphant songs the grandeur they deserve.
Until the Doves finally kicked into gear with The Cedar Room and then made sure their link to the Manchester scene of a few years back was crystal clear with a pounding instrumental dance tune, that charisma was sorely lacking.
At least there was something to look at.