Doves Gunnersville Highlights
catch up on all of the highlights from friday at gunnersville with doves, echo & The Bunnymen, badly drawn boy and white flowers.
The first day of Gunnersville saw incredible performances in our Big Top Tent in Gunnersbury Park.
Openers White Flowers bewitched us with their haunting shoegaze. Whilst, Badly Drawn Boy had us wandering down memory lane with tracks from his Mercury Prize winning career.
Legends Echo & The Bunnymen took us on a walk on the wild side with their ice cool synth psych. And, finally our headlines Doves brought the day to a euphoric end with back-to-back anthems.
White Flowers’ woozy electro and stark visuals transform the Gunnersville Big Top into an intoxicating monochrome dream. They’re only armed with an electric guitar and synths, but the Preston duo’s sound is as rich and lush as velvet.
Vocalist Katie Drew’s harmonies recall the ethereal tones of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, but with a detached edge. Whilst, the glacial soundscapes she forges with guitarist Joey Cobb are like if The Antlers had backed Julee Cruise on the Twin Peaks theme song.
Katie shares with us that Doves were the first gig her and Joe went to together. And, it’s not the only connection the duo have with the Manchester legends. Their upcoming debut album, ‘Porta’, was recorded and produced by Doves’ guitarist, Jez Williams.
As their set careens to a close, we’re already longing to become once again intertwined in White Flowers’ world.
Badly Drawn Boy
Badly Drawn Boy is here to take us away from the dark visions of White Flowers and into the light. His set is like wistful walk down memory lane and packed tighter than his signature beanie with tracks from his acclaimed albums: ‘The Hour Of Bewilderbeast’, ‘A Soundtrack About A Boy’ and ‘Have You Fed The Fish’.
Like Damon Gough the songs may be older, wiser, but their genius hasn’t faltered. Opener ‘This Song’ shimmers with the same dreamy determinism as when it was released two decades ago. Whilst, ‘The Shining’, played by Gough alone on acoustic guitar, has become more emboldened. It bristles with a raw urgency that finally bursts into a youthful glow as Gough effortlessly segways into the Lotus Eaters’ ‘First Pictures Of You’.
Although, Gough is standing solo on the stage just with his guitar, the songs and his likable dry humour gives the big tent the intimacy of a club gig. He jokes about that the About A Boy producers played him a ‘temporary’ Bob Dylan song for the scene he was writing ‘A Minor Incident’ for, and how his song was the ‘cheap version’. And, before a jazz-infused version of ‘Once Around The Block’ he shares his love for his “oldest friends” Doves.
Closing with the classic ‘Silent Sigh’ on the piano he teases us once more by joking that we’re not clapping in time. With a new album rumoured to be on the way, after today we cannot wait to have Badly Drawn Boy back in our lives.
Echo & The Bunnymen
Leonard Cohen asked on his final album, ‘do you want it darker?’. And, if you’re Echo & The Bunnymen you gave a firm, ‘yes’.
As they take to the stage, the Big Top tent is plunge into darkness with a blue hue. They instantly whiplash us back to the band’s formative years with impassioned plea of ‘Rescue’ from their debut album, ‘Crocodiles’.
Front man Ian McCulloch stands every inch the icon wearing his signature black leather jacket, and sunglasses that haven’t stopped resting on his chiseled cheekbones since 1997. His vocal range is still impressively expansive as he scales the impassioned echelons of ‘The Cutter’ and the graveled baritone of ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’.
Guitarist Will Sergeant’s much-imitated guitar style is pure perfection tonight. The reverb of ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’ canters out with unbridled joy. Whilst, the climbing solo on ‘The Killing Moon’ invokes the same melancholic desperation as when it was played it live on The Tube in ’84.
But, tonight is by no means a straight up replay of their back catalogue. They morph the visceral energy of ‘Villiers Terrace’ into the dirty fug of The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’. And, hitchhike from Liverpool to NYC for a cover of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ by Lou Reed at the end of ‘Nothing Ever Lasts Forever’.
The sweet yearning of ‘Lips Like Sugar’ closes the set and the Bunnymen once more disappear into the darkness.
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for as Doves, back after a 10 year hiatus, take to the stage. The soaring tones of ‘Snowden’, from their third album ‘Some Cities’, instantly sweep us up high and for the next hour we never come down.
After ripping through ‘Black and White Town’ Jimi says, “how you feeling y’all?”. As a huge cheer erupts from the crowd in reply, you can feel every inch of the Big Top is filled with adoration for this band.
Tonight is a reminder, seriously if you needed one, of just how many anthems the band have in their arsenal. ‘Words’ sung by guitarist Jez is a magical call of defiance and shows that the band are specialists at producing breathtaking soundscapes. Whilst, the earworm chorus of ‘Pounding’ has everyone singing along word for word and encapsulates the boundless euphoria in the tent right now.
Doves may have been on hiatus for a decade, but they’ve returned with a renewed vigor as they inject a new vitality into the tracks. On ‘10.03’ the band let the cosmic sounds of the middle eight become a full Sergeant Pepper psych explosion. Whilst, the tender tones of ‘Caught by The River’ are emboldened with a rockier edge.
You couldn’t find a man happier than Jimi right now as he beams ear-to-ear. You can see he relishes every time the audience sings the choruses for him. And, when towards the end of the set he says, “I love playing these songs with these people” – you know it’s the honest truth.
The highlight tonight is unquestionably when the band play ‘The Cedar Room’ from their Mercury Prize nominated debut album, ‘Lost Souls’. As that single note solo rings out, the air bristles with emotion and expectation. And, then it all comes gloriously crashing down for chorus as we sing those ‘oh, oh, ohs’ as one.
Tonight’s epic career-spanning set draws to a close fittingly with ‘There Goes The Fear’. Its lilting guitar riffs and blistering chorus couldn’t be more a perfect anthem on this late summer evening. The band throw a curveball and takes us to the hedonism of the Hacienda for Sub Sub track, ‘Space Face’, to end
With a new album on the horizon we leave looking forward to what the future will bring from Doves.