I love Elbow. I’ve always loved Elbow. From the first moment I heard ‘Asleep in the Back’ I was hooked and I have followed their fortunes ever since, with great hope but mainly real surprise as to why they’d never scaled the heights they deserved. They are undoubtedly one of my biggest musical influences, there songs drenched with sadness at times and Guy Garvey has to be one of the most important musicians to me. ‘Switching Off’ was the first dance at my wedding and is to this day one of my all time favourite songs. Whilst I think their meteoric rise to stardom since winning the Mercury Music prize last year is about 10 years late, it is thoroughly deserved and I, more than anyone, was delighted when I’d heard who’d won. Well Doves are probably the Elbow of 2009. In a similar fashion to Elbow, it is my personal opinion that their best albums are their first 2 albums and whilst the following 2 are excellent, they are not as good as previous efforts. It is also my opinion that they will more than likely be nominated for the Mercury prize this year, or at least there will be expectation for this to happen because Elbow and Doves are mates and also both from Manchester and have similar stories etc etc. I hope not. I really hope that if Doves win the prize, and I don’t think the album is strong enough to do so, then they win it because they deserve it. Whilst I like the album, it does not blow me away but you never know. This is not something that cannot be said about their live performance because not only was I blown away, I was left wanting more. It’s the first time I’ve seen them live. It won’t be the last. Opening tune ‘Jetstream’ (from the new album coincidently!) was as good a live track as I have seen by anyone ever. The atmosphere and the lighting set the tone and the track just built and built and built to a monsterous climax. It was amazing. The rest of the set was made up largely of tracks from the new album with old classics thrown in for good measure. Whilst clearly a little rusty and still wiping the cobwebs away, there is no doubt that on their day Doves are a force to be reckoned with live as this performance proved. And big shout out to the Picturehouse. An excellent venue, with excellent sound and a great atmosphere. Reminded me of Shepard’s Bush in London, which can only be a good thing. Hopefully more and more bands start playing there as I certainly think it has potential. But the night belonged to Doves, and though I don’t think they will emulate the success of their fellow Mancunians, I do hope that they continue to write and release albums because the world of music is a better place for them.