ICYMI LIVE REVIEW // Dodie at Manchester Academy

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

📸 Tom Craven - http://tomcravenphotography.com/

Words by Tilly Louise


It’s early doors, there are an array of colours floating around outside the Manchester Academy and a vibrant buzz of excitement in the air. Rainbow flags wrapped around groups of people, pinks, blues, purples, oranges and tons, of, Dodie’s signature colour - yellow. I’ve personally followed Dodie’s career for five years and I am a personal fan of her music, so tonight was going to be a good night.

Support act, Irish born, Orla Gartland’s backdrop is lit up; it’s not long until Orla takes the stage. Opening with her song ‘Between My Teeth’, the song has a bouncy pulse about it that had everyone bopping along. She looked completely in her element and natural on the stage with her guitar and microphone. Her energy filled the entire venue. Although her pack was having technical issues that didn’t phase her, she handled it with her own jokey manner that the audience loved. After Orla had finished her set the room was left buzzing from her upbeat pop ‘bangers’ as one audience member described. Orla was literally glowing and had a big beaming smile on her face, replicated, too, by her fans.

Kawala were the second support act of the night. They had a real good connection with the audience showing charm and humour. Half way through their set they invited the already hyped up crowd to dance along with them sharing their dance moves during their song ‘Do It Like You Do’. They brought summer to Manchester on a cold night. The combination of the two-part harmonies, smooth vocals, sparkling guitars over a calypso drum beat had me, my friend and everyone else dancing along. Kawala’s set transported you to the tropics, the lighting and catchy melodies went hand in hand in the feel of the songs. My friend and I agreed on their music being full and bright, it was the first time I’d heard Kawala’s music and they transformed the Manchester Academy into a festival in the sun. Kawala left the stage and the lights dimmed as covers were removed from the drums and the ‘Dodie’ drum face was revealed.

“They brought summer to Manchester on a cold night”

Dodie entered the stage to a single spotlight pointing down towards her, then a dreamy drone of her harmonising voice takes over the sound of the screaming audience. Dodie’s gentle voice drifts around the room, making the venue come to a universal silence just to appreciate her voice. Her bandmates slowly make their way to their positions ready to kick the night off with her song from her new EP ‘Monster’. Dodie takes centre stage dancing along to the beat of the song. The rising synth notes brought a contrasting feel to the stage compared to her opening song ‘Arms Unfolding’, it was almost like a huge Dodie party with everyone jumping to the beat. She carried a wide eyed, half laughing expression as she skipped around the stage with such confidence. Her energy and flare set the mood for the evening.

She seemed to really enjoy the audience simultaneously shouting her lyrics ‘just a couple of monsters’. All the stage lights turned on and revealed the big ‘Dodie’ light at the back. The atmosphere was electric, the audience were mesmerised with her.

In between each of her songs she’d share a couple of words explaining what they meant to her, she made jokes about how most of them are sad songs! She was so present with the audience and this shone throughout her performance. During her songs that had less instrumentation such as ‘6/10’, ‘She’ and ‘When’. You could really hear her beautiful tone travel around the venue. Dodie then sang ‘You’, the warm tone from the ukulele complimented her voice amazingly.

The lighting for this song added the feeling of warmth as the soft yellow lights dangled down from the stage. As the night went on you could feel her confidence grow and the nerves started to disappear, she became a lot chattier and more jokey, seeing her get comfortable on stage was inspiring to me and a lot of people in the audience. I heard people saying how proud they were seeing how she went from a shy girl singing on YouTube to playing her original songs to 3000 people, Dodie was in full control and enjoying herself. There was such a spark on stage between all the band members, every single one of them were glowing with talent and throughout every song they gave their all, which made them even more incredible. From where I was stood, I was able to look around the whole room and the response from the audience was pure electricity. Every single person was in the world of Dodie.

She finished her set off with ‘Absolutely Smitten’, ‘Would You Be So Kind’ and ‘In The Middle’. The transitions between these songs was clean and fast, Dodie went from playing a soprano ukulele to playing a Tenor ukulele in one swift movement. The room erupted when the beginning of ‘In The Middle’ began, the crowd singing every lyric. The punchy kick drum gave these songs such pace, the build into the bridge section of the song added tension and had a reference to the ‘Brooklyn 99’ theme tune! Dodie conducted the audience to get low and make the build into the last chorus big, everyone on and off stage were jumping around. The night ended with high energy and spirits. Everyone involved, from the artists, to sound techs, lighting techs and everyone front and backstage made it a night to remember - a massive shout out to those involved.

To conclude, Dodie’s performance was better than I ever thought possible because of how alive the music was. There is something for everyone in her music, whether it’s a lyric or the way it sounds, how she sings a line, the instrumentation, style etc. The applause from the audience said it all really, it lasted for the entirety of the song during the bows - ‘Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen’. Everyone on that stage and working behind the scenes deserved it. Next time she is on tour do not hesitate to buy yourself a ticket, you are in for a great time.

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