Review by James Attwood with Photography by Bianca Barrett

After a 9 year hiatus that came at a time when the Manchester band had just achieved a seldom seen kid breakthrough of their own with Kingdom Of Rust, Jimi, Jez and Andy, aka Doves are back. Their show at Somerset House proved that the band have picked up exactly where they left off, and reminded us why they are one of the greatest British bands of modern times.

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It was a perfect evening to watch the band, a warm summer’s day in central London set within the confines of the prestigious Somerset House, there was a feeling in the air that could only mean it was going to be a special evening.

Manchester based electronic beat maker Gabe Gurnsey opened up proceedings. Though there were moments that fitted proceedings well, his set felt unfortunately rather out of place. This to me felt largely due to the venue, which was far too polite for his underground post punk style electro, which would feel more at home in a dark, crowded Hacienda, tripping balls at 3am in the morning.

However, it was refreshing to hear a largely instrumental set, his bonding of big analog synth bass and drum sounds kept the set fresh and captivating. There are not enough artists these days exploring a sound that has been so influential in British music history, the band Zebrah (RIP) came to mind whilst watching Gabe. Despite a similar bass heavy and 4 to the floor theme to the set, the set didn’t grow old, and Gabe left the stage to rapturous applause.

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And as the clock turned 9 and the sun was setting, Doves walked out onstage. No big intro or walk on song, just the 3, all of which haven’t changed one bit since 2010. That’s if you discount Jimi’s recent shave and haircut.

Opening up with ‘Firesuite’, the band set the tone for the evening perfectly as the set is weighted evenly between fan favourites and instrumental heavy alternatives such as ‘The Outsiders’ which fans are happy to hear. ‘Snowden’ is soon to follow, and is anthemic as I would of hoped live as it is recorded.

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The band often smile and share remarks with the crowd which adds to the intimate feel of the venue, which despite the many hundreds in attendance, still feels like a small O2 academy room. Or maybe it’s the London atmosphere, “What a great city” remarks Jimi, even suggesting he likes it more than Manchester, a place some might say is the centre of the universe.

The band are on top form, and deliver tracks such as ‘Winter Hill’, ‘Kingdom of Rust’ and ‘Black and White Town’ with frightening precision as if they never stopped playing together post 2010. It’s good to see them back together as a fan, especially since they are still clearly loving what they do.

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Despite being their most successful album, the band only play three tracks from the album and concentrate on older material. Although there is the tension of possible material in the air this evening, the crowd are not disappointed when there is no mention of any, as the band close on fan favourite ‘Caught by the River’.

There is little noise as the band walk off, I for one feel satisfied already without an encore and could go home happy. However the band soon return to deliver ‘The Cedar Room’, ‘There Goes The Fear’ (which sees the music video project behind them for effect). There is one exclusive this evening, the band announce ‘Space Face’ before that all too familiar synth line comes in. It turns out its the first time the band have played the track since 2010 and use the commemoration of the Apollo launch to dig it out of the memories box.

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Doves left us all wanting more tonight, despite a usual 1hr 30 set. They showed that perhaps the best is still yet to come for the band, and that the concentration on older material is surely intentional.

Setlist: Firesuite / Snowden / Rise / Black & White Town / Sea Song / Words / Last Broadcast / Outsiders / Winter Hill / Kingdom of Rust / Pounding / 10:03 / Caught by the River / The Cedar Room / There Goes The Fear / Space Face

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See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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