Dido (with Scissor Sisters & Aqualung)
Marlay Park, Dublin, 25 August 2004
What an odd combination. The dinner-party blandness of Dido is certainly
well-matched with the pale, watered-down indie-lite of Aqualung. But with those
strange Scissor Sisters? In a field? In these shoes?
And what about fans of dirty Noo Yawk hi-NRG glam-pop - would they shell out £55 and be prepared to stand in even the same postal district as Princess Di-do of the daytime-radio dumb-down? As it turned out, there were small clusters of Scissor Sisters fans infiltrating the 17,000 crowd and trying to block out the fact that they were at a Dido concert.
If you want, I could go into detail about Aqualung's set - the studious bedsit boringness that Matt Hales' group shares with fellow nice-boys Coldplay and Keane; the songs as dull and flat as the Naas dual-carriageway. But as no one else in Marlay Park cared about them, neither should you.
Later, Dido transformed herself into a ripped-up rock chick and tore into her new material of edgy three-minute electro-punk... only joking. Drizzly synthesisers went 'swoooshhh', drum machines went 'fart' and 'clip' just like they were scrupulously programmed to do, session musicians stayed obediently in the shadows like Mrs Rochester hidden in the attic in 'Jane Eyre'. Thirteen-year-old girls hugged and swayed, thirtysomething women roared like hen parties, while dragged-along blokes texted their mates for the football scores.
As for herself, Dido whined and whimpered through her nauseatingly tasteful and indistinguishable songs with that weak and wailing voice, while always being relentlessly polite and friendly like a bank clerk offering a mortgage plan. She's only done one song and already, according to her, we are the most fantastic and loud audience in the whole world ever - which was a bit rich seeing as before her set there was a lot of loud dissatisfied whistling and catcalling from said fantastic audience, waiting impatiently for her to finish her yoga and get on stage. Insipid, spineless and unimaginative comfort-food for people who watch soaps and gossip about them at work the next day; I watched her so that you didn't have to. Just doin' my job, ma'am.
Sandwiched between the wet bread of Aqualung and Dido were the tasty and filling Scissor Sisters. Gloriously flamboyant and swaggering, Jake Shears and Ana Matronic and all those other implausibly-named debauchees raunched it up to eleven, although they never got around to hosing us down like they promised.
We could have done with less of the lame repartee and exhortations from Jake and Ana, but that's a small quibble. Their band takes the shiniest 70s MOR, glam and disco baubles and flaunts them with peacock confidence and avant-garde individuality - it's all wonderfully enjoyable and electrifying. Even the dullest and drippiest of Dido devotees were thrilled by those fabulous singles - the acoustic rock-out of 'Take Your Mama', the stomping 'Laura', the preening 'Comfortably Numb' - as well as other tracks from the best album of 2004 so far.
By far one of the most exciting live acts around, Scissor Sisters have now played in two Irish fields in six weeks. As they have a UK tour lined up for the end of October this year, let's hope they can get the Olympia or the Ambassador all to themselves for a night or two. Supporting someone like the Corrs in the Phoenix Park in November or December might be a bit too much for them. And for me.
Check out the CLUAS.com review of Dido live in Vicar Street in 2001.