Inner City Live with Doves + Johnny Marr + The Coral + The Twang

Half way through Doves’ set at Inner City Live, Jimi Goodwin surveyed the soggy crowd in front of him and praised the stiff upper lip of the British festival-goer. So he should; and for two reasons:
Firstly, the people in attendance had turned up in spite of the weather, when a duvet day was the easier choice, and secondly because those same people hung around like drowned rats until the very end. I will bet that to a man and woman they were all immensely grateful that they did because Doves were right on the money.

Doves crowd

I was lucky enough to see the band at the Royal Albert Hall in March, at what was almost the beginning of their revival. That was a good gig, but the wave of emotion that greeted their return after a nine-year absence washed away the rough edges. In the ten or so concerts that followed, they have obviously become tighter, the sound is better and all four performers looked much more at ease with themselves.


From the opening Fire Suite to the huge Space Face finale the band defied the rain. They were set up right on the edge of the stage as usual. When the rain lashed down that bit more, they just upped the ante. Roadies covered the more exposed bits of electronics with plastic sheets and everyone got on with it. It was tremendous.


One band who shared the bill at RAH took a more cautious approach. The Coral set up half way back on the stage. There were way too many hats to get wet. Their set was what amounts to their greatest hits with the whole range of styles on show. Their albums are a bewildering mix of Folk Pop Rock and even Psychedelia, sometimes even in the one song. What remains impressive is how many there are and how familiar they are too.

The Coral

Johnny Marr is too cool to let a bit of weather get in the way. He is probably the only guy on the planet who can still carry off a Manchester haircut without looking daft. But he keeps Getting Away With It (see what I did there?) because of his legendary status, and the fact that everything he touches turns to gold, even the stuff he did with Modest Mouse, and he is a top bloke by all accounts. I know that his back catalogue is all his “stuff “, but I would have preferred much more of his own bona fide material.

Johnny Marr

He has three albums in his current incarnation plus the much maligned and lost Healers material. However, in a short set we had four Smiths songs, the aforementioned Electronic tune and the Record Store Day Depeche Mode cover I Feel You. It all went down a storm, ironically in the only dry part of the day, so I suppose you have to give the punters what they want.

Johnny Marrjohnny marr stephanie colledge photography

Earlier on The Twang got the locals up and at ‘em, with a mixed bag of a set. I prefer their earlier indie tinged tunes to their more recent pop material but Phil Etheridge is the sole front man these days and the female vocals lend a lot to the songs. Phil literally gave the bird to the rain but his fellow band members were lined up so far back they were almost back stage, leaving him to whip up the crowd, some of whom seemed to have turned up specifically to see The Twang.

The Twang

The return of Doves has lightened the mood of the current music scene for me. At a time when the bands on the rise who play the kind of music I really like are the angry men of Fontaines DC, Idles, Shame or The Murder Capital, they are a reminder of calmer, less fraught times when everyone pretended to get on with one another. Perhaps songs like There Goes The Fear or Black and White Town are being repurposed for the upcoming roaring 20s, but the emotional thread that runs through all their tunes is still intact, and is distilled into the few minutes of wonder that remains The Cedar Room.

Maybe the final scene in front of Doves defined British music festivals — people half dressed for the summer, half for the winter; leaping around to Space Face in a field of mud, flattened Red Stripe cans, discarded umbrellas and the odd shoe here and there. A better metaphor for the British condition in 2019 would be hard to find.

Reviewer: Ian Gelling

Photographer:  Stephanie Colledge

About Author

1 thought on “Inner City Live with Doves + Johnny Marr + The Coral + The Twang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *