Review of her gig in Vicar Street, Dublin, 5 Feb 2001
The usually sparse aesthetic of the Vicar Street stage is punctuated with decks, keyboards, amplifiers, drumkit and an eclectic array of percussion instruments. Even before Dido's backing band stride on (in as far as striding is possible with so much equipment) it is clear that this gear-fest, bedecked with serious strobe, has been designed to impress. When the crew steps aboard they carry an air of pat professionalism that characterizes the performance. Session stalwarts leading us through an introductory jam, letting us know what to expect. Trouble is this cool fusion of DJ beats and scratches, high-octane drumming and dub bass bears little resemblance to the hour plus of music that ensues.
After some minutes Dido appears, neatly fashionable à la razor-cut bob and cleanly confident, to anticipation-fuelled hollers - at which point the tenor of the music alters inexorably. Despite the DJ's best efforts to slick a veneer of contemporary cred across the songs, the tempo slurs to a turgid, mid-rock pace. Keyboards segue from one euro-eighties embarrassment to another, topped with Dido's ever-adequate vocal. Sporadic conga rhythms and jimbay interludes ring dispassionately hollow against mediocre songs that meld with facility across the duration of the gig making it impossible to pinpoint a highlight. Until? with unintentional irony, Dido halts proceedings, cabaret-style, to introduce 'the band', who mercifully stop short of the fatal drum-solo.
Even 'Thank You', famously sampled for 'Stan' and greeted with rapture by the sensible-sweater crowd, serves only to demonstrate Eminem's cleverness in extracting the minor-chord verse melody from its perfunctory, pop-by-numbers chorus counterpart. But Dido will bask in his reflected glory, as that of her Faithless-founder brother Rolly, for a while longer. And then, who knows? Today Dublin, tomorrow? Butlins! Not so much LA Central as slap, bang in the middle of the M1.