Friday, 13 April 2007
how many lies have you told today into the dark of your coffee cup?
Tina Dico @ Nottingham Social, 12 April 2007
Dearie me. I'm sure I'm getting too old for this. A gig on a school night is one thing, but at some point in the evening, it became one of those nights where one pint becomes two becomes six....I think I finally got into bed at about 2am, having inexplicably spent half an hour pottering away on my laptop after Sarah had kindly dropped me home. Hmm. Mind you, Je regrette rien. It was a lovely night. As well as the gig and the delicious plate of fish and chips at the Cock & Hoop (that we forgot to pay for), I finally got to meet Mike... and who could ask for more than that?
I bought the tickets to this gig entirely on a whim. I do actually have a song on my iPod by Tina Dico, but I downloaded it as part of Sweeping the Nation's "Songs to Learn and Sing" feature back in November last year and I'm not 100% sure that I've actually listened to it. Nottingham has a good range of venues and attracts a decent variety of bands, but I tend to miss lots of them because by the time I spot that someone interesting is playing, tickets have long since sold out. Periodically I vow that this won't happen to me again. In the wake of missing out on tickets to see Maximo Park and the Manic Street Preachers, I popped into Rock City to pick up a flyer to see who was on in the next few months. There weren't any real "must see" acts on the lists that weren't already sold out, but as I always say that a half-decent gig is a lot better than a night in front of bad telly, I picked out a couple of shows that sounded interesting.... and ended up with 4 tickets to see Tina Dico at the Social. Well, they cost me less than a tenner each and she had been specially picked out by someone called 'Dead Kenny' on Sweeping the Nation as being an act worthy of a listen, so why not? Ever since then, I've seen her name glaring at me from the kitchen calendar and idly wondered what I letting myself in for - particularly once I had read the wikipedia entry that described her as "a cross between Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan" (what a dreadful thought. Just imagine for a moment what that would look like....) *
For one reason or another, I ended up with a couple of spare tickets. Rather than let them go to waste, I cast my mind about to think of people in Nottingham who might be around and would consider turning up to a random gig at short notice. Naturally I thought of Mike, and happily he was able to attend (after sending me possibly the best voice message I have ever had. "Hi. It's Mike here. Mike from Troubled Diva. I'm interviewing Maria McKee at eight, but I'll see you after that. I'll hang around in the downstairs bar at the Social". Oh, the glamour!) Anyway, it was high time we met and he's absolutely lovely.
So. Tina Dico.
I suppose it's unfortunate that she looks so much like Lisa Kudrow. Mike immediately has Sarah and me in hysterics early on when she asks the audience if they have any requests and he stage-whispers "Smelly Cat!". It's also a touch unfortunate that she plays an incredibly straight-faced cover version of "In The Army Now" by Status Quo. Yes, I can see what she's doing there when she says that this song is sadly as relevant now as it was when it was originally released, but she seems genuinely a little surprised at the sniggers from the audience. Have Status Quo ever been relevant? Where do you go from that? Into a song originally released by Holly Valance? To be fair to Ms Dico, she actually wrote the song in question ("Send My Best"), but she seemed genuinely interested to know how many people in the audience had Holly's album, causing a fair bit of awkward foot shuffling and coughing as people tried to avoid her gaze (possibly as much from anyone present who actually had the album as from those of us who didn't). Rather distractingly, her keyboard player is also the spitting image of Julianne Moore. At this point, all three of us were busy clutching our phones, frantically sending updates to Twitter. O Tempora! O Mores!
These minor distractions aside though, I thought she was pretty good. Inevitably for a female singer/songwriter, there's a touch of Joni Mitchell in there, but at other times she also reminded me of Sufjan Stevens (one of her songs was a dead ringer for "John Wayne Gacy Jr" off Illinoise) and also that woman from the film version of "High Fidelity" (you know, the singer/songwriter that John Cusack's character has a thing for). Echoing a remark made in another Nick Hornby book, she's one of those people who sings with her eyes shut, but her material seems heartfelt and is occasionally quite touching. I initially worried that she would lapse into bad sixth form poetry -- especially as English isn't her first language --but on the whole I thought that her lyrics were good (her song about the one night stand in particular was both stark, unflinching and beautifully delivered).
The Social is only a small venue and I think it was perhaps a little over half full, the audience appearing to be mainly made up of politely respectful middle-aged guys (perhaps it's time I started including myself in that category....?). The set lasted a touch over an hour and Tina certainly didn't outstay her welcome. I enjoyed the set and I think she's one to investigate further. I also think Lord Bargain would love her.
After the gig, the three of us retired to the downstairs bar where we had another couple of drinks. I'll admit to feeling a touch groggy when I woke up this morning, but I think I've got a bit of a cold coming on..... anyway, it was well worth it.
A good night.
* Actually, wikipedia only says that she was inspired by Dylan and Cohen, but it's too late now - I'm stuck with a mental image of that unfortunate cross-breed....