Last night’s Dodos gig at The Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen was a first for me because I went in blind. Perhaps that’s not the best thing for an aspiring journalist to admit to but entering the red-lit room – still decked out in last week’s Halloween decorations – without bias made for an interesting night.
Support act Doug Tielli fills the stage with a wonderfully odd cocktail of Canadian charm and songs about cows. He howls his way through parts of the set, much like a wolf cub whose lost sight of its pack but bear with me here – it’s actually quite endearing and doesn’t jarr against his jazzy rock sound.
Starting as they mean to go on, The Dodos open with an explosive performance of ‘The Current’ that sees the band’s newest touring recruit John Haege hot-coal hopping on each foot to the beat. It’s infectiously energetic, sending waves through the crowd. Even to me, an absolute beginner to the band, the craft The Dodos have is evident in each off-centre drum beat and soaring riff. Tracks like ‘Black Night’ and ‘Confidence’ feel like the hybrid love children of Death Cab For Cutie and Phoenix. Add 50% soft guitar sections that wouldn’t be anomalous in a Death Cab album followed by a 50% eruption of molten Phoenix-inspired new wave rock and you’ve made yourself a solid Dodos track. This formula becomes a real defining constant throughout tonight’s set however, just when I think I’ve got The Dodos all figured out, labelled and boxed up, they deliver ‘Walking’, a real curve ball track that plays like an indie lullaby. No explosions, no reverb and no pounding drums, just the controlled Ben Gibbard-esque vocals of Meric Long brushing across acoustic guitar.
Enjoyable as the night has been, the scales aren’t quite level. On one side, there’s five albums, an army of dedicated fans and an encore. On the other, there’s the fact that the intimate Hoxton venue they’ve sold out tonight is the same they were playing five years ago. I’m all too aware of the extinction puns here but I’ll safely say, The Dodos aren’t quite
dead done yet.