The Dodos – The Duchess, York

Bringing a hint of sunshine to a wet, miserable night in Yorkshire, San Francisco folk-pop duo The Dodos were in town to promote their well-received second album Visiter. It was a song from their first record that kicked things off though, a worthy, slightly overlong run through The Ball introducing a fairly sparse crowd to the frenetic fretwork of guitarist Meric Long and tightly wound aggression of drummer Logan Kroeber. The pair are joined on-stage by an associate tasked with glockenspiel duties and the job of battering what resembled a large bin for those moments when smashing a cymbal just doesn’t quite cut it.

The epic Joe’s Waltz from their latest album is where things get interesting, drifting along in a state of lush melancholy before a mighty blues riff kicks in and the drums take on a really visceral edge. Percussion is a key part of the pair’s sound – there are times when a blistering sense of ferocity really shines through thanks to Kroeber’s background playing in metal bands, but those moments are finely balanced with restrained pitter-patters rhythms on the likes of Winter. Similarly varied is Long’s voice, which over the course of the evening takes in tender sighs and ragged howls – occasionally during the same song.

A key element of Visiter is the presence of chanteuse Laura Gibson‘s backing vocals and her lilt was keenly missed during the pretty lament of Walking. She gives the band another dimension on record that is sadly missing here, taking a little something away from the experience. That’s quickly forgiven when the track segues into single Red and Purple though, which receives some of the loudest cheers of the night and injects some extra vitality into proceedings, imbued with more shuddering energy live than on the LP. Paint The Rust proves the most rollicking moment of the night, those bluesy licks back in evidence and a simple, hypnotic drum pattern exploding midway through the track. Fools is another big hit with the crowd, channelling Feels-era Animal Collective in all of its glorious, blissed-out pop whimsy, and Jodi‘s potent mix of intense instrumentation and simple melodies also goes down a treat.

There was a stop-start element to the gig because of problems with sound levels and the like, and interaction between the band and crowd being fairly minimal led to a somewhat subdued atmosphere. As so often occurs though, the quality of the songs really shone through and there was the odd psychedelic psuedo-freakout to enjoy too. By no means perfect, not necessarily the most memorable of nights, but a great deal of fun while it lasted.

Simon Harker

Updated: Sep 09, 2008

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