The D.O.T. Ruby Lounge, Manchester 04/11/12

For those of you that don’t know The D.O.T is the collaboration between Rob Harvey, the frontman of one of my favourite ever bands The Music and Mike Skinner the brains behind ground-breaking outfit The Streets. After retiring their respective bands last year the two have come together to create what on the face of it may seem like an odd combination. The lead singer from the criminally under-rated dance infused rock band famous for high energy live performances and the guy behind Original Pirate Material which broke the mould in UK Hip-Hop inspiring the social commentary lyrical style that the next generation of artists like Alex Turner took up.

It must have been a long time since these two have played in venues as small as the Ruby Lounge and what is even more surprising is that the room is probably around half full. One reason for this may be down to the fact that when I told people I was going to see The D.O.T I got a puzzled look and the question what’s that? Upon telling them who was behind it they nodded knowingly and seemed interested! On going to the gig I was wondering what sort of crowd would be in attendance – old The Music fans or guy’s wanting to hear Dry Your Eyes? In truth the crowd could have been either, both or neither.

The appearance on stage of Rob and Mike encouraged the crowd to move away from the bar and down towards the stage, lead track And A Hero from the recently released album And That kicked off the evening getting the crowd moving to the funky house groove with Rob providing his trademark soaring vocal and contrasting back up vocals from Mike. It’s noticeable that the crowd are taking in the music rather than going wild, getting their heads around the new direction they are being taken in. And it’s a credit to the crowd that there are no shout outs for old material, realising this is about a new project not past glories.

The stage set up is fairly simple, with a DJ style booth from which behind Mike, all suited and booted, can control the beats and sounds with an array of keyboards and laptops, looking a lot more chilled than the geezer of old jumping around on stage at Ibiza Rocks. For Rob a microphone stand and guitar are all that’s required.

In addition to the album, The D.O.T have been recording an abundance of songs, and there are plenty of tracks not on the album that feature in the set list, at times one song merges into the next, fitting of the DJ style set up. Banter is free-flowing from Mike, informing the crowd that he’d love a beer, which duly appeared and very quickly disappeared!

A feature of The D.O.T’s music is the ability to use traditional song structures over the top of dance style tracks, with catchy choruses and guitar work, prime example of this is Shut Up And Keep Talking. The sound varies across a wide spectrum taking in traditional 4/4 beats with some old school garage and rave elements, interspersed with horns, strings, guitar and piano.

As the set progresses Rob hits his stride and some of the famous dance moves that used to be free-flowing on stage with The Music made an appearance. Mid set Mike informs us that there is a contingent of Harvey family members in the audience, celebrating Rob’s dad’s birthday – happy birthday Mr Harvey!

It isn’t all four to the floor beats, the set closes with Right Side Of Madness a haunting, brooding ballad that showcases what a great voice Rob Harvey possesses. After a brief break the guys are back to give us the two most recognisable tracks. You Never Asked which on the album features vocals from Claire Maguire and it was down to Mike to provide this element on the night. The set closed with It Goes Off with its    90’s rave inspired synths and stomping bass line getting the crowd up and jumping.

In conclusion I think it may take people some time to get what The D.O.T are about, with anything new and innovative that people aren’t necessarily familiar with it takes time to be understood. Reviews of the album have been positive and going off the live performance they have got it nailed down and tight. I for one will be watching with interest to see where this collaboration goes next.

*Rob Harvey photo courtesy of Gavin Whitby-Lear (@Gavlar08)

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