Live at Hoxton Square Bar & Grill, London
As sadly seems so often then case, loss is so repeatedly the inspiration for great art. Carrier, the latest album by The Dodos is such a creative work, influenced and inspired by the loss of friend, collaborator, and the bands’ on tour second guitarist, Christopher Reimer. The album is both littered with references to their late friend and, with singer/guitarist Meric Long insisting that Reimer had such a profound effect on his approach to song-writing, then perhaps it is impossible to escape the added poignancy that playing these songs in his absence brings. It’s an amazing, beautiful, inspiring and incredible performance. First off is a raucous blast through “The Current”, it’s chiming interlocking melodies a little more aggressive and more insistent here live, giving way to an almighty burst of noise that summarily announces the dynamics of how tonight’s performance of each song might play-out – a pattern of building, anticipating, obliterating, then calming and ebbing back down – it would be very wrong to say formulaic mind, it’s a pattern maybe, but executed with such brilliance, variety and nuance that you can’t help but by impressed. “Substance” is all spikily aggressive and urgent, sounding like a post-punk interpretation almost, until again it fades out through its lush palliative outro. “Stranger” impossibly takes things up another decibel level, built around a centre of deafening, freefalling chords. “Relief” is exactly that, amongst the more delicate things attempted here, and perhaps the finest example of how wonderfully Long and Joe Haege weave melodies out between them. “Confidence” receives a cheer of instant crowd approval on hearing the first few notes - perhaps it’s because if you know the song you can’t help but get that sense of anticipation for not wanting to wait until the crescendo ending comes, for how good it’s gonna sound – they don’t disappoint, don’t fail to make every impact felt – it’s huge, thrilling, adrenalizing, awe-inspiring, wonderful - all the things live performance should be. Well, not all the things, some subtlety is always welcome of course – and it seems The Dodos can just as easily offer us some with “The Ocean”, closing track from Carrier and played here with such incredible manipulation of dynamics, colour and tone, and all bathed in a warm, heart-warming even, haze of gorgeous soothing sonority. All in all, it’s a stunning evening, a superb performance, seeing a band inspired and on-form is always a magical experience and tonight The Dodos do everything in their power to remind you how inspiring they themselves can be.