Pop review: Forever Heavenly: Doves/Manic Street Preachers, Royal Festival Hall, London

Royal Festival Hall, London

As the Manic Street Preachers throttle to the end of Starlover for only the second time in 19 years, bassist Nicky Wire issues a grinning disclaimer. "You can tell that me and Richey were 19 when we wrote those lyrics. You have to make a fool of yourself when you're young." Starlover was one of six tracks the band recorded for Heavenly in 1990. Two others, Motown Junk and You Love Us, were immeasurably better: musical paintbombs consisting of Clash riffs, Guns N' Roses solos, Public Enemy samples and absurdly pugnacious rhetoric, as electrifying now as they were then.

The Manics' gameness in reprising their brief Heavenly career for the 18th birthday celebrations of the only label to take them seriously from the outset, speaks to the enormous warmth felt towards founder Jeff Barrett. Fired by Barrett's diverse tastes and unflagging enthusiasm, Heavenly has always been the most charismatic and inviting of indie labels, with an aesthetic both retro and modern

The label's biggest success of the last decade has been Doves. They often seem to have a vital ingredient missing but tonight, previewing their fourth album, they power through their limitations. Their previous incarnation as Sub Sub, a dance trio with no natural frontman, explains their charisma deficit but also their rhythmic muscle. The faster Andy Williams drums, the better they become. Even when the lyrics are streaked with melancholy, the Motown-flavoured Black and White Town and rave-minded new song Jetstream have the exultant velocity of piano-house anthems, and There Goes the Fear sweeps the hall to its feet, all the way up to the balcony, in a spirit of celebration and camaraderie that seems distinctly Heavenly.


Dorian Lynskey

The GuardianTramp

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