Live Review: Dolittle, Mr G & Rich

17/12 at the fighting cocks (kingston)

Just like Christmas - Dolittle seem to come but once a year. Well, aside from last year when the weather had a say in the matter, so for two of us here at Gigseen, last night's show up in Kingston was anticipated more than your average night out.

I've been quietly stalking (in a nice way of course) Ange Dolittle for years now, from EAT to We Know Where You Live to Big Yoga Muffin and now as Dolittle, backed by Mr G & Rich, who were running through their support set as we arrived and surprised me by being seriously louder than their recordings would imply - a very pleasant development indeed.

For now however, I shall pass the 'write-up baton' on to Neil as I do believe it wasn't just me that enjoyed the gig. XX Grim.

This morning I went through my diary. This year has taken me to over 50 live events. Some I enjoyed, some I felt underwhelmed by and one or two were so good they reminded me of why I love the energy of what live music is all about. And then there was last night, which at the eleventh hour on a cold December night became my gig of 2011.

Grim and I arrived at The Fighting Cocks knowing of the band Dolittle; both of us have the 2006 album Hello To The Fortunate Few. An apt title as it seems the fan base is small but loyal here tonight in Kingston, Surrey. My first and last live concert seeing Ange was around '91, when he fronted EAT whilst supporting The Wonder Stuff at the Brighton Centre (ironically I was there with Grim). If my memory serves me well I think that was a cold winters night too (18th of November 1989 - I still have the ticket!! XX Grim). I was 17 and remember on that night I walked out having felt another rare occurrence, the support band was more dynamic on that night than the main act.... and I was a huge Wonder Stuff fan.

It was such a momentous gig for me that a day later I had bought EAT's debut LP Sell Me A God and played it constantly for months. That year it was one of a few albums that led me to a musical enlightenment that is directly responsible for me having built a career making, selling and talking about music since 1993 when I got my first job in the music industry...making tea!

Fast-forward 20 years later and it's still one of my few go to albums, if pushed it's one of my desert island discs (One of.. ?? - Heresy!! XX Grim). And before anyone claims fanatical love of the Dolittle, I can't claim to have followed Ange's career beyond the EAT era but have the two albums and numerous singles and EPs sitting comfortable as regular visitors on my iPod (the albums have lasted the test of time far better than most of their more successful contemporaries of the early 90's). So in the end I probably only knew about half the set list, however it didn't matter. Luckily for Gigseen we have Grim who on the drive back brought me up to date with the Dolittle family tree and closed off the often confusing bed-hopping between Ange and the Wonderstuff...Hopefully Pete Frame is working on one of this particularly rock family trees as we talk.

So, to last night, maybe a hundred people in a small room in Kingston, no drummer, just guitar, bass and a drum machine...oh and a kilted Ange Dolittle who took to the stage around 9:00 along with Mr G & Rich who perform their task as sidemen with a great sense of purpose and come across as more than up to the task of keeping the highly energetic Ange in touch. But as you already know the gig was great, Grim has already told you that.

The point of all this is that the best gigs are not the ones that cost the most, they are not the ones with the biggest screens or that are at the O2 or Wembley for that matter. They are in-fact the ones that move you. That take you somewhere with the band, small venues help with this. The genuine ability to see the whites of the eyes help massively. But the key thing on this night was that the winner was the audience, for we all knew we were seeing a class act, Ange doing what he was born to do, and doing it just for us, in a small room, in a small town, in Surrey.

And so, with the rest of the world sadly unaware of the event that was taking place we experienced a proper gig, with passion and energy. It's tragic that Dolittle are not a regular working and recording band. Ange Dolittle is funny, entertaining, confident and sings from his heart, not as instructed by his voice coach...but hopefully we can kill the X-Factor soon and enjoy some existing british talent that falls under the radar at present. By the end of the night, for me, he'd outshone the Arctic Monkeys at the O2, destroyed The Lemonheads in Brighton and delivered more passion than Peter Gabriel and an orchestra....and he didn't do it with anything more than a microphone, humour and a smile that shouted 'home sweet home'. All the other gigs were good, don't get me wrong, but for a few hours on a cold December night, music seemed more than cool again, it felt alive, very alive.....my recommendation for 2012 must see artist...Dolittle.

So what can I (Grim) add? A couple of my own highlights perhaps. Top of the list has to be hearing tracks that I know and love from recordings being twisted inside-out and played in an entirely different, unexpected way.

First of these; 'Me and Libby' which first saw light of day as a WYWYL track, then BYM, and most recently on the Dolittle album. Who'd have thought the song could be morphed into a baggy dance-along? - perfectly emphasised by the addition of The Fighting Cocks' doorman on stage 'doing a Bez' in return for an EAT T-Shirt unearthed in Ange's Brother's attic - most entertaining!

Secondly - 'Bleed Me White' from EAT's 1993 Epicure album - One of the big singles off the LP, check it out on YouTube - a fine , fine video. The song was graced with two 'false starts' as it were - Ange gently poking fun at Mr G's mellow guitar-line and singing along the opening lines to 'Every Breath You Take' followed by a little self mockery on the second run with Kim Wilde's 'Kids in America' - If you listen to the start of the original, you'll get it...

In short, a fantastic show. Ange remains the consummate entertainer, a fact that could only be amplified by a gig in a cosy, intimate venue like The Fighting Cocks. The sterling songs more than good enough to make a great impression in whatever form they are performed (kudos to the sound-desk btw - there was no trouble following Ange's lyrics at all - a rare event for most gigs). I sincerely hope that 2012 will bring a few more nights the same from Dolittle ... Just so long as it doesn't detract from the very important task of getting that second album finished hmm .. :)

Signing Out - Two Well-Pleased Dolittle Fanatics -
- "Weird Sounds, Set Our Minds In Fever"