Review: dodie @ O2 Guildhall Southampton, 23/09/21


With support from Matilda May and Will Joseph Cook, dodie's O2 gig couldn't help but enthral a whole audience of people, telling a story with her songs while celebrating an exceptional return to live music.

There’s something both that Matilda Mann and Will Joseph Cook inherently understood about performing with dodie as support acts. For Matilda Mann it was all about establishing that vibe, the dizzy and occasionally wavy acoustics of the electric guitar as she sang to a crowd filling in. I didn’t even know Mann would be performing, but when she came on stage and stood in the lonesome spotlight, launching into one of her newer songs, ‘My Point of You’ which is part of the recently released EP, Sonder, it was quick to bring the surprisingly loud and occasional rowdy crowd to a standstill. With a clear voice, charismatic lyrics and an onstage presence you couldn’t help become lost in, Mann’s music always contained a hint of sadness, whether that be in her Gossip Girl inspired song ‘Japan’ or another single from Sonder like ‘Doomsday’. However, it only helped establish the palpable anticipation for dodie in the crowd.

Will Joseph Cook on the other hand knows how to engage a crowd and bring the mood up. His music was, quite simply, the definition of fun as he jumped around the stage and grooved out to some of the recognisable hits. ‘Take Me Dancing’ had such great energy that the crowd couldn’t get enough of it, and Cook’s loose body movements and indie aesthetic worked perfectly as the stage became his playground to move around at any opportunity when his guitar didn’t anchor him down. Cook also wanted the audience to be a part of his music, whether that be telling us to make as much noise in the chorus of his unreleased, more experimental song, ‘4 am’, or simply getting up close and personal with us and trying to get them to groove along with him; Cook’s charm and humour absolutely helps with this! The setlist worked well, balancing the slower songs with his more recognisable, upbeat tunes. While I’ve never been a fan of ‘Be Around Me’, Cook’s outro song which rose to fame on TikTok, it’s clear the audience couldn’t get enough of it. It’s infections, perhaps an earworm, but it is undeniably fun, something that Cook always seemed to excel at on stage. Sadly, the sound engineering could’ve been improved-  at times you just couldn’t hear the singer over a loud band (although that hardly stopped the crowd from singing along).

While these two support acts were great, it goes without saying that the night was all about dodie and her music and she couldn’t have captivated us any stronger than she did. Faithful to her debut album, ‘Air So Sweet’ started minutes before dodie even entered on stage, that recognisable melodic hum that amped up the excitement for her appearance. When she finally popped up, the crowd understandably went nuts. For someone’s whose music has always had a softer appeal, the excitement she drums up into a crowd is enamouring and even I couldn’t help but whoop and cheer when she finally appeared. Without a moment to waste, dodie swung into ‘Cool Girl’ and it was a breath-taking display of emotion, clarity and a surprising revelation that dodie somehow sounds better in person. In just five minutes of being on stage, dodie gave us everything we wanted and more and I already knew she wouldn’t disappoint.

It goes without saying, dodie excels at the slower ballad-like songs, and when a crowd hushing moody tune began it often had us all swaying slowly. Occasionally arms would sweep up into the air, voices would sing out in the harmony and the delicate addition of strings on stage helped create the perfect atmosphere. Everything from the lights and band to the little props left on stage helped pull us all into the beauty of dodie’s music, especially in her perfectly queer singles like ‘She’ and ‘Rainbow’. Since her rise to fame, Dodie has always had a queer presence in music (not to mention that one on stage almost-raunchy moment with Orla Gartland), and because of that, the LGBTQ+ community have always felt welcome at her concerts. She creates a place for the audience to be themselves and celebrates sexuality in her music, and her concerts are no different. The crowd couldn’t have responded any better her perfectly queer moments and added that dodie personality that we all have come to love

We can’t dismiss dodie as a slow singer-songwriter to make your heart weep. She has plenty more rhythmic and occasionally angry songs that complement a perfectly curated setlist. ‘Special Girl’ is the first moment when Orla Gartland steps down from her pedestal to be on the stage with Dodie, and the musician’s on-stage presence while playing guitar was phenomenal. You can tell that Gartland loves the music dodie creates, and it’s not hard to see why. Both dodie and Gartland work beautifully together, and dodie gives time for Gartland’s various instrumental talents to stand out on stage, but Gartland never upstages or lessens the importance of her friend’s music (it is dodie’s concert after all). Every moment where dodie dials it up, like in ‘Boys Like You’ which was described as a song “taking us to banger town”, she injects energy into her onstage presence and just has fun, something that gets the crowd wild. Honestly, it’s surprising how energetic a Dodie crowd can get, but it’s because everyone loves everything she does. Whether we’re grooving along to some great rhythms or softly swaying as we try to hold back tears, dodie moves every aspect of the crowd and that’s what makes her such a great performer.

When dodie closed the concert on ‘Hate Myself’ it was the perfect farewell. She donned the iconic postie costume, danced those signature movements and her cheeky smile she had as she waved at us and eventually disappeared from the stage was amazing. It was the perfect close to a great concert, and I for one am already excited for another opportunity to see her perform live again.

Dodie is currently on a 2021 world tour. Her remaining two dates in England are September 24th in Bristol and September 27th in London. You can find out more and buy tickets by clicking here.


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Previous News Editor (20-21), previous Editor-In-Chief (21-22), and now the Deputy Editor & Culture PR duo extravaganze, I'm just someone trying to make their way through the world of journalism... (trying being the keyword here).

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