vendredi, août 20, 2004

Dido live, mo'

Confessions of a feelgood singer

Dido live, Brixton Academy, London
By Richard Liston

20 August 2004

If Dido hadstood on stage at the Brixton Academy and not uttered a word, the packed crowd would still have loved it. It was unnerving to see such devotion. But that is the enigma of Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong, the singer who shot to fame on the back of being sampled in Eminem's single "Stan", and whose records sell and sell, especially in the US. You either get it or you don't.

I fall in the latter category. To me, she's just an ordinary Jo with a quirky voice and heart-tugging songs. At the Brixton Academy, though, the penny dropped. Dido's popularity, which, to judge from the audience, is driven by a large, hard-core female base, is founded on her ability to write simple songs dealing with everyday emotions that most of us identify with.

Dressed in jeans and a red top, Dido was every bit the anonymous girl on the bus, and she gave a no-frills performance that dazzled with its simplicity. The lights were just right, the sound-checks all checked out, and the five musicians didn't hit a dud note all night. Initially, she appeared apprehensive, but, buoyed by the enthusiastic crowd, she gave her all in "Here with Me", from the No Angel album, which was swiftly followed by "See You When You're 40", a song she confessed was a direct attack on someone close to her.

The confessional was the theme for the night, and no sooner had Dido finished putting the boot into an old mate than she girlishly told the crowd how "Life for Rent", the title song of her second album, was the most personal she'd ever written. There were more heart-to-heart interludes about the downside of being single, about being in love, about being lonely, about jealousy, about doing drugs, about having sex for the first time... Phew! Enough, Dido.

Yet the pathos was delivered endearingly - an aural reality show that stopped before going all the way. After threatening to lose herself in melancholy (possibly taking her nickname too literally) Dido cheered up, smiled and let her hair down. The audience lapped it up, cheering, screaming and singing along with their energised heroine.

When there were more confessions, you just had to go with them, especially when they had the wit of "Mary's in India", a song about slipping off with your best friend's boyfriend while said best friend is away. Can Dido be that spiteful? "If this song were true," she laughed, "I'd be a total bitch, but you know I'm not." Mmm, I wonder.

Unsurprisingly, "Thank You" brought the biggest cheer of the night, and by this time the ever-eager crowd seemed to be having the best day of their lives, swept along on a wave of Dido Inc feelgood pop. All that was really missing was Eminem.

Her three-song encore started with the latest single, "Sand in my Shoes", and, yes, she confessed that it was inspired by a holiday romance that went wrong, continued with "White Flag", a "personal" take on unrequited love, and ended with "Do You Have a Little Time?", with just Dido on keyboards. It was, like the evening, simple but effective.

Dido tours to 28 August

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd