Jimi Goodwin, bass slung low, hair halfway to Jon Bon Jovi, is complaining that the audience seem so far away. He means physically, they're separated by a camera track, but somehow this is a good analogy for tonight's Brixton show.
It's not that Doves don't write beautiful musical landscapes, they do: soaring epics to match the images of the British countryside projected behind them, tainted with industrial grime. It's not that they don't have a lighting show with delusions of grandeur. They do, we're still seeing flashes to prove it. It's that sometimes it isn't quite enough to let the music do the talking. Sometimes you need just a little more.
They certainly hit the ground running with Pounding and Words, two real belters. Spider webs of light dance above our heads and we should be flying. And yet we're not. There's something missing. Well there's the sound for one - just the wrong side of muggy, which is definitely a bad thing for a band who will be spending the evening hiding in the shadows of their light show. And then there's the performance. Yes, it looks fantastic but it's all a little bit staged. Maybe it's the presence of the cameras, it can't be nerves - we've seen Doves blow away Brixton before. Last single Black And White Town suffers the same fate. Yup, what we're lacking here is that little extra magic, that push you get from watching a band at one with their music and happy to be taking it out for the night.
And then suddenly they pull a sly one on us. With a couple of the big tracks out the way, the lights pull back and suddenly Jimi, Andy and Jez hit their stride. NY, The Last Broadcast, Snowden and Ambition reveal their true gritty glory. Maybe they're happier playing the nonn singles songs but with a rocked up Caught By The River and a magnificent Cedar Room, Doves bring the set to a close on a high. It's taken a while but the audience have connected and Jimi doesn't seem so alone any more.
So it's down to There Goes The Fear to seal their fate. A classic Doves track: all Northern Soul and Northern regret that builds to an epic joyfull chorus and ending with Jimi battering away at the drums. And build it does, playing with us, ready for release and... at the last minute they pull back once again, oh the teases that they are. The magic just drops away and we leave somewhat frustrated. We've seen the pleasures on offer, even copped a pretty good feel but when all is said and done it loooks like we're off home to the cd player for a little self relief.