Concert review: Unapologetically authentic show shares dodie’s life lessons on humanity
English singer-songwriter dodie concluded her “Human Tour” at the Hollywood Palladium on Friday night, where she pulled from her full discography. (Sim Beauchamp/Daily Bruin)
Friday, Oct. 11
By Saskia Lane
October 12, 2019 5:42 pm
This post was updated Oct. 13 at 12:35 a.m.
If there were ever an artist who could transition smoothly between soft songs celebrating stigmas and upbeat odes to dysfunctional relationships, it would be dodie.
The singer-songwriter, who began her career posting original music to YouTube, concluded her “Human Tour” on Friday at the Hollywood Palladium. The set list featured songs spanning from her September release of “Boys Like You” to throwbacks like “Absolutely Smitten,” which she first shared online in 2013. Versatility was a theme that defined the night, as the mix between the soft acoustic, lighthearted ukulele and bordering-on-rock-ballad songs allowed dodie to seamlessly move between tempos and instruments, while showcasing favorites from all three of her EPs.
Following an upbeat acoustic opening set from singer-songwriter Adam Melchor, dodie took to the stage, donning suspenders and pigtails, to sing “Arms Unfolding.” While the opening song started the show off at a slow pace, the lack of instrumental backing and a spotlight centered on dodie emphasized her solo entrance and highlighted her raw vocal talent.
Her performance quickly picked up as she immediately shifted to the beat-heavy “Monster,” which welcomed in an upbeat mood as dodie ran across stage, encouraging each side of the audience to clap along. The song also brought a lighting shift that illuminated a sign with “dodie” written in her signature script style.
While there were many lighting effects throughout the show, not all were noteworthy for what they added to the performance; they sometimes took away from the music through their disjointed and confusing movements. Strings of lightbulbs were hung across the stage, and in dodie’s “Sick of Losing Soulmates,” the well-timed illumination of bulbs with the beat seemed to add visual depth to her vocal performance at first. However, the subsequent clunkiness with which the bulbs were turned off and on, appearing out of time with musical cues, begged the question of if the effect was purposeful, or if there were technical difficulties.
The blip in the lighting, however, was easily overlooked when audience members held different colored paper up to their phone flashlights to create a rainbow effect for “rainbow” and “She.” With National Coming Out Day falling on the same night as this show, the two songs, which highlight LGBTQ+ experiences, took on a powerful significance that could be felt throughout the crowd.
“There’s no shame in this room, and there’s no shame to be felt,” dodie said, noting the occasion.
The spotlight didn’t fall on just dodie the entire night, though. Her live rendition of “rainbow” was preluded by a solo from her cellist, and prior to that, her violinist took center stage to perform the bridge of her song “You.” The talents of each member of her band were highlighted in the best possible way, adding nuance to her original songs with their individual strengths. With the added performers, the theater began to feel like a concert hall, and an awe spread throughout the room as if the Los Angeles Philharmonic had taken the stage.
Harkening back to the title of the tour itself – as well as dodie’s third album “Human” – the concert showcased an element of humanity that stole the show. Between quips about the strangeness of performing for a large crowd, dodie and her band danced awkwardly and enthusiastically, occasionally tripping over their moves and getting tangled in the hanging lights. A degree of self-awareness mingled with an unapologetic passion for music, combining to bring the audience into a similar celebratory headspace dodie and her band appeared to have.
While performing, dodie was quick to demonstrate this mindfulness, qualifying many of her lyrics with comic interruptions. She noted that her lyrics of “Absolutely Smitten” didn’t really make any sense and informed the crowd that they would be responsible for a high note she could not hit. What drew the most laughter from the audience, however, was when she sang about a past relationship in “You.” Following the lyric “It was wonderful,” dodie winced and added as an aside that it actually was not.
Her finale did not ditch the element of sincerity either. Borrowing from the end of her 2018 “North American Tour,” dodie concluded the set with a performance of “In the Middle.”
“All right, let’s send it,” she said. “This is a song about a threesome.”
The bass drum that took on a distinct role in the closing act of her 2018 tour made a reappearance, and so did the look of absolute, genuine fun on dodie’s face as she took out the drumsticks. Jumping, slamming and smiling, dodie’s stint at the drum, and the song itself, ended with an unexpected blast of confetti that sprinkled down on the entire room.
The emotional nature of the end of an era was felt by the entire audience as the stage lights shifted to rainbow for the final bows of dodie’s tour. As dodie kicked off into a handstand assisted by her bassist and heartfelt hugging flooded the stage, the show’s authentic spirit could be felt in three words: “We’re just human.”