Watching a gig in Hebden Bridge could be considered a surreal experience.
In a time when bigger is nearly always seen as better, walking the cobbled streets to a venue nestled away in the corner of the countryside is a refreshing antidote to music’s obsession with the flamboyance.
Place Jimi Goodwin within that setting and the intimacy wraps its arms around you.
It’s a fitting setting as well for the Doves frontman, who has taken the platinum-selling band off the arena treadmill for now and is flying solo. His debut album “Odludek” is due out on March 24th and the Hebden Bridge Trades Club gig is a prelude to a slot supporting Elbow on their upcoming UK tour.
The thunderous “Terracotta Warrior”, opener on the album, set the tone for a night of eclectic brilliance and exemplary musicianship.
New track “Didsbury Girl” could have been taken straight from Doves’ Greatest Hits while “Live Like A River” harked back to the days of Sub Sub; its opening minute of electronic house ripping up the “How To Hold A Smaller Gig” textbook.
It wasn’t a setlist entirely exclusive to new material. Doves favourites “Snowden” and “Lost Souls” were welcomed into the fold like old friends and despite a few calls for “Space Face” and “The Ceder Room”, it was a crowd more than happy to bask in the unknown.
The wonderful “Oh! Whiskey” has been receiving airplay for some time now and if ever an artist has combined the warm and uplifting with the stone cold depressing it’s Jimi Goodwin. “Oh! Whiskey” effortlessly pulls off the trick; with the folky acoustic and delicate harmonica carrying its booze blues sentiment before morphing into an upbeat medley-driven stomp midway through. Not even a snapped string could deter Jimi from powering through, calling the moment he was finally handed another acoustic the night’s “Spinal Tap moment” – dwarves dancing around a miniature Stonehenge and spontaneously combusting drummers seemingly in store for future shows.
Jimi was in high spirits throughout the gig, joking with the crowd and praising the venue for its warmth and character.
The beautifully haunting “The Ghost of The Empties” only added to the warmth before “Panic Tree”, a heart-warming carnivalesque fairground-like romp and “Last Broadcast” brought the curtain down.
Jimi recently put the eclectic nature of his new record down to him schizophrenically devouring music. The 200-plus crammed into Hebden Bridge Trades Club left Tuesday night ravenously awaiting its March release.