Longtime readers of Girlbandgeek (a sort of oxymoronic category) will know that I’m mainly a devotee of alternative and punk bands, but I do like good pop music as well. Thus there will always be a place in my heart for Dido and her electrop stylings.
Dido blew out the charts with her debut album, No Angel, which came out in 1999 and has sold 21m copies. Her second album, 2003’s Life for Rent, was similarly huge, selling 12m copies worldwide to date (source: Wikipedia). My wife and I had the first two albums, and they received a lot of playtime in our house. Dido has released 3 more albums since Life for Rent, all good, but none of which attained anything like the popularity of those first two.
Dido is a gifted songwriter, with keen emotional instincts and a lyrical flair. She can write heart-melting ballads, or wicked takedowns of former lovers. She has a lovely, clear voice, by turns kittenish and powerful. Besides her great songwriting and enchanting voice, I would say a large part of her success is her beautifully produced sound which is a very dance-electronica flavor of pop. Her songs tend to have a driving beat, around which acoustic guitar, synth swirls and her breathy voice spiral in a pleasing and hypnotic way.
Dido’s Bay Area appearance was at San Francisco’s Masonic Auditorium, an “icon of mid century modernist architecture” according to their web site. We found our seats in the balcony and had time to wander around. We checked out the merch, bought some ginger beers, and scoped out some points of interest on the second floor. It’s one of those dizzying spaces where you’re looking down on the crowds below over a slender, waist-high barrier. A huge mural with lots of Masonic symbols occupies one wall of the atrium.
Anyway, on to the show! Opening act was Jack Savoretti. He wasn’t really my thing but the band had a good sort of contemporary folk rock sound. Jack was personable and had a nice voice. They played about six songs, thanked us, and they were gone.
We waited 30 minutes and then the band took their places to much applause. Moments later Dido bounced out looking casual and relaxed in black pants and top, and white tennis shoes. The audience was good and ready for her, and the crowd retained its enthusiasm for the entire performance. Dido in turn was very appreciative. She has a very cute and laid-back stage presence that was super appealing. She alluded to the thrill and challenge of achieving mega-stardom right out of the gate with her first album. The set-list featured many tracks from this year’s Still on My Mind, as well as a liberal selection from her first two albums. The band was excellent and they were having a good time, which I like to see. The live versions of the songs imbued some new-ness without being unfaithful to the originals. Most of the songs involved the full band, but she played two or three with just one or two accompanists which was effective. Overall it was a totally satisfying performance. If you’re a fan of Dido’s music I would encourage you to catch her live show if you can!