Hey, I remember keeping a regular blog! I'd better get in these concert reports now before the baseball season claims me again. This week, Black Rivers visited the Chapel on their short debut tour in the United States.
Black Rivers, the Chapel, March 26, 2015: I'm so out of the habit of reading music magazines that I have no idea if Doves have broken up, except that I haven't seen any notification from, say, the mailing list. I mean, I know Jimi Goodwin has a solo record, and now the two remaining members (also, brothers/twins) have Black Rivers, but the band could be taking a break, right? Also, does any band break up anymore? What reunion tour isn't around the corner? I'm too lazy to investigate, but I'm not so lazy that I won't at least go to their show and find out for myself.
It's been long enough since the last Doves show I saw that I don't mind repeating that I love them. I've traveled for them, dammit! (Granted, that doesn't necessarily mean a ton with my rock tourism habits.) In 2000, Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast and Doves' Lost Souls were a one-two punch from moody Mancunian tunesmiths, and they ruled my MP3 player for months on end. I still listen to them all the time for emotional sustenance, not to mention they're one of the few bands in my music collection that would qualify as booty music (yes, Mancs and Canucks fill out my booty music bracket).
However, I haven't listened to either Black Rivers or Jimi Goodwin's solo work; given the choice of studio output vs. the live experience, my limited disposable income goes to the gig. Thus, I wasn't sure what to expect from the show, but never fear. Black Rivers' songs reminded me why I love Doves so much. The cinematic arrangements and atmospheric feel were intact, with maybe more of a rocking feel. Then again, that could've been my proximity to the stage and the blaring mix from the guitar monitor.
I've always wondered how the division of labor works in Doves -- who is most responsible for which touches, whether anyone leads a specific charge. Of course, each musician has a main instrument: Jimi on bass and most vocals, Jez on lead guitar, and Andy on drums, the latter two occasionally taking a turn on the mic too. Also, it's not like the lyrics are Dylanesque or mine a deep auteur's vein (not an insult). Black Rivers didn't shed much light on the question. Jez took all lead vocals, but the songs were close enough to Doves trademark material that you could probably mistake them for each other in a blind listening test.
Not helping the situation: Black Rivers did a couple of Doves songs, but not the ones with Jez or Andy on lead vocals. For example, "Jetstream" and "Here It Comes" are two of my favorite Jez and Andy vocals, but instead, they did "Rise" and "Black and White Town." "Pounding" was also on the list, but they didn't get to it. Further muddying the picture, Black Rivers used the same keyboardist they had on the last Doves tour. As you can imagine, the Doves tracks got a big reception from the crowd.
I have a confession here: The sound at the front, namely the vocals, was terrible, and I could barely make out a word of the lyrics or the banter, and it had nothing to do with the Manc accents. Like many other British bands on their first tour of the United States, Black Rivers is used to playing much bigger rooms in the United Kingdom, and the sound suffered for it. Hey, it gives you something to look forward to on the next tour -- if they will be back, so will I.
By the way, I had no idea how of the size of this tour before I got to the show. It sounds like they did only a few very small shows in California after SXSW, and San Francisco was the last stop on the road. And after the gig, I had an almost Broad City-like (apologetic, drunk pissing dude; drunk, supine, rolling woman) adventure getting home, so hats off to Black Rivers for briefly interrupting my life as a shut-in. You guys are totally worth two bus rides, transfer included!
» doubles up and comes back Mondays
» here comes the action
» seems that I've been waiting here forever
» talking trash under your breath