REVIEW: Dido at the Brighton Centre

Dido performed at the Brighton Cenre. Photo: Simon Emmett
Dido performed at the Brighton Cenre. Photo: Simon Emmett

Three notes in, and my husband turned to me and said ‘she’s still got it then’.

And it’s true. If you’re talking about her unmistakable, sweet and raspy voice, then Dido definitely does still have it.

Returning to the fore with her first tour in 15 years, hearing those familiar yet almost-forgotten tones was like taking a step back in time to the optimistic glory of the post-millennial era.

But, perhaps, therein lies the problem. It was as if I had caught a ride in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and found myself back in the year 2000.

Dido’s voice was as clear and beautiful as ever, but her sound, new material included, seemed firmly rooted in the past.

She opened her Brighton gig - which she later pointed out was the first time she has ever played in the town - with the song Hurricanes, from the album she released this year called Still on My Mind.

It was a perfectly pleasant song, but when you’re expecting a decade and a half of musical progression to come and slap you in the face, it felt a bit like a damp squib.

I even had to double check the track listings to make sure it was from the latest record, as it could so easily have been a lesser-known track from her first album No Angel, which took the world by storm in 1999.

Things livened up a bit with the third song of the evening, Life For Rent, the title track of her equally successful second record, and the first of her better-known ‘classics’.

And the night kind of progressed in the same vein. There was newer, lesser known music, all of which was listenable but most wasn’t standout, interspersed with her older crowd pleasers.

Unsurprisingly Thank You and White Flag, her last song, were the biggest hits of the night with the crowd.

But while I did generally enjoy the older stuff the most, it was the middle segment where there were a couple of more reflective tracks that was my highlight of the night.

Sitting on the Roof of the World was written from a letter her brother Rollo wrote to her after her mega-fame waned. She followed it up with Quiet Times, which she described as ‘a pretty song about depression’.

Strangely, during these more vulnerable moments she seemed more confident in her delivery. During musical interludes in most of her other songs, she would kind of dance at the back of the stage with her back to the audience a lot, but during these tracks she stayed front and centre.

To say anything negative about Dido, however, is almost unfair. She came across as a lovely woman, who seemed grateful to have another moment in the limelight, even if being in it does make her a little uncomfortable.

Her dominance of early noughties easy-listening was so swift and meteoric, it’s hard to imagine she could ever reach those heights again.

But from what I can tell, that will be just fine by her.