It’s incredible to leave a live show with a feeling of utter elation. On an otherwise dull Spring evening in the capital, I left South Kensington with a ring in my ears, a buzz in my head and a glow in my heart. Only hours earlier I’d found out Doves were playing a benefit for the Teenage Cancer Trust (a gig you would’ve though was better promoted) so I got myself down to see the artists formerly known as Sub Sub in action for the first time since they moved me in 1999.

In the Royal Albert Hall, they don’t really operate the way you and I would. The auditorium is no smoking – not too bad a thing, but I couldn’t adjust to a view of the band without a smoky haze hitting my eyes. It didn’t seem right. And their lack of a bar meant I would be paying £3.50 for a warm can of lager from the cash and carry all night. "Not to worry, the band’ll be good" I kept telling myself. I was wrong. They were better than good. They were incredible.

Doves always struck me as a band that would be incredible live. Their two albums ‘Lost Souls’ and ‘The Last Broadcast’ were brimful of great pop, creeping melancholia and an eerie atmosphere that even J Spaceman would lose himself in. Tonight they open with former single ‘Pounding’, and the Royal Albert is transformed from a dull, upper class opera house into a sweaty Northern indie club on a Friday night. The three band members aren’t the most inspiring people to look at in photos. Yet somehow they command your attention on the gaping London stage. Between songs they swap instruments, with Jimi Goodwin singing whilst drumming on crowd favourite ‘Here It Comes’. All the great Doves moments are on offer - the breezy pop of ‘Catch The Sun’; the uplifting guitar riff of ‘Words’: the paranoid genius of ‘There Goes The Fear' – the list goes on and on. But the real surprise came in the encore.

The band return to the stage. Jimi says something about this being their first gig since last year, then introduces a short man with what looks like a bubble perm. Hang on, isn’t that, nah, what would he be doing on stage with them? Shit, it is! The band starts playing a familiar tune, but it’s not one of theirs. And when the small man in the bubble perm starts singing, myself and the rest of the back row (the seats were cheaper) squint at him and realise that it’s only Roger Daltrey on stage! Singing ‘The Seeker’ with Doves! An incredible end to an amazing evening.

But then of course it doesn’t end there. They never played their first hit from the early 90’s did they? So half the crowd defies the stiff bouncers to accept Jimi’s invitation of dancing on stage as we’re treated to an instrumental version of ‘Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)’; incidentally the first record I ever bought.

Before tonight I was pretty sure I loved Doves. They always got me with their music. They didn’t follow fashion or fads, and they seemed like ordinary fellas who were amazed to be where they were. After tonight’s show I’m amazed it’s Coldplay, and not them, who are the biggest selling British act in the world at the minute. Doves were awesome tonight, and I rarely use that word. ‘Here it comes’ again – awesome.












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