The latest hot-ticket Brit-rock show to hit town was this sold-out L.A. debut on Tuesday by the Doves, Manchester’s latest answer to the Beatles and Smiths, Oasis and Radiohead. And while the Doves indeed showed off some elements of those groups at the El Rey, their hour-long set also managed to paint a picture of a band with enough original ideas to stand out on its own.
Led by twin bothers Jez (guitar) and Andy (drums) Williams, the Doves presented dramatic and soaring melodies, the kind that can elicit emotion even without lyrics. Singer Jimi Goodwin, who also played electric bass and acoustic guitar, used his voice much like another instrument in the mix, helping craft a series of radiant passages.
Behind the musicians, which also included a touring keyboard player, an endless video montage of mostly outdoor footage was an effective condiment for the band’s melancholy efforts. Horses could be seen running during the beautiful love song “Break Me Gently,” while surfers and dolphins created a sense of shore in the grand “Sea Song.”
Highlight was a heartfelt reading of “A House,” a chilling tale of physical destruction and emotional redemption which also anchors the Doves’ debut U.S. album “Lost Souls” (Heavenly/Astralwerks). This recounting of the late-1990’s fire which destroyed the Williams’ instruments included striking video images of burning wreckage, reinforcing the song’s painful lessons.
Show ended on a lighter note with a two-song encore that included instrument-swapping during the soulful rocker “Here It Comes,” as well as closer “Space Face,” a Manchester club hit from when the Williams brothers were in the dance band Sub Sub.