The Manchester, England, pop scene has birthed an impressive array of rewarding groups over the past two decades, from the Smiths and New Order to the Stone Roses and the Verve. And while none of those groups really sounds like any of the others, they all do share a common creative belief that musical adventure and emotional lyrical content need not be mutually exclusive on a rock stage.
At the sold-out Mayan on Thursday — the third of 12 scheduled U.S. dates, with a wrap June 20 at Gotham’s Hammerstein Ballroom — the trio (plus touring keyboardist) played atmospheric yet muscular songs that deftly combined melancholy instrumentation with insightful, often unsettling emotional sentiment.
A striking light show and a variety of evocative images shown on a rear-stage video screen (sometimes in thematic tune with the music, other times clearly not) completed the powerful scene.
The three primary members of the Doves — singer-bassist Jimi Goodwin, guitarist-singer Jez Williams and his twin brother drummer Andy — are in their early 30s, and all were in a mid-’90s dance group called Sub Sub, which means the music itself is technically quite simple, particularly the drumming. But the players infused the dramatic songs with enough emotion and originality to make it all work.
“Pounding,” one of seven tracks played that can be found on the Doves’ excellent brand-new album “The Last Broadcast” (Capitol), was a grand and glorious opener with increasing volume and ever-quicker pacing used to create a smart sense of propulsion that carried over throughout the 80-minute production.
Another new one, “Words,” was sung by Williams and recalled bands like Pink Floyd and Radiohead as well as shoegazer acts like Ride. “N.Y.” was a fast and heavy entry accompanied by vintage aerial footage of ocean liners and Gotham skyscrapers, while the mid-tempo “Caught by the River” boasted smart harmony vocals.
The first Doves album, the depressed “Lost Souls” (Astralwerks), also provided numerous highlights: The uplifting “Catch the Sun” was effectively framed by yellow and orange lighting for a dazzling vibe, while early single “The Cedar Room,” which closed the regular set, was a deliberate, smoldering entry that ultimately visited “Pride”-era U2.
A well-earned two-song encore included the anthemic “Here It Comes,” during which Goodwin played drums and Andy Williams played strolling harmonica and tambourine, plus the dashing instrumental finale “Space Age,” a soaring slice of musical adventure.