Friday 5 December 2008

sometimes if you wanna hold on you gotta let go...

Tina Dico @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 4th December 2008

Tina Dico is massive news in Denmark (where she performs as Tina Dickow). She's won loads of awards there and sold piles of records. Most recently, in September 2008, so wikipedia tells me, she won the Kronprinsparrets Kulturpris and DKK 500,000 which was granted by Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark for “having the courage to look the contradictory and difficult parts of existence in the eye, and for the ability to express it in a very special, life-affirming fashion that many can identify themselves with."


Over here, she's still probably best known for her collaboration with Zero 7 on "Home". This is the third time I've seen her performing in Nottingham, and is the third different venue. In April 2007, I saw her performing before a small but enthusiastic crowd at the Social. In March 2008, I watched her perform before a small but enthusiastic crowd at the Maze. Last night, I watched her perform before a small but enthusistic crowd at a half-full rescue rooms.

I'm sensing a pattern here. In fact, I think she might well have been playing to the same audience on every occasion - Hen pointed out one guy standing just in front of us filming the gig on his camera, and remarked that he had been doing exactly the same thing at the Maze. It looks as though Tina Dico is working extremely hard to make an international breakthrough, but it's also clear that this breakthrough has yet to materialise.

It's a shame, really, as I think she's pretty good. Yes, she's ploughing along in the deep furrow left by Joni Mitchell and a million other female singer-songwriters, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and I think Dico does have something to offer. She has a clear singing voice and her confessional songs are nicely observed. Tonight she is accompanied by two chaps: Dennis Ahlgren and Helgi Jonsson. The former sports a natty straw trilby and noodles along on guitar, keyboards and assorted percussion, and the latter rather shyly offers splendid backing vocals (ofen reaching higher notes than Dico herself) and plays guitar, keyboards and some splendid honking trombone. As a result, the sound is fuller than before, and the songs stand up well, with "Sacre Couer" and "Count to Ten" from her last album sounding especially good. The show is split into two 45 minute sets with an interval inbetween, and it's really nice to be able to relax and watch an intimate show like this without the usual attendant hassles of being crushed up in a big crowd in a small venue. I'm sure Dico wishes she'd sold more tickets, but the crowd there is spreads out in the half-full venue and greets every song warmly. I have enough room to relax and just enjoy the show. Helgi needs to put a bit of work into his onstage repartee, but he has a good voice which he uses to good effect on a couple of duets with Dico. Dennis is practically mute, but his subtle guitar work behind Dico's acoustic works really well at filling out the sound. It's a good, relaxing show.

I'm not sure if Dico is frustrated by her apparent lack of progress in the UK, but if she is, she never lets it show. She is smiley and reasonably chatty throughout the show, and she warmly greets a couple of familiar faces in the crowd with her dazzling smile. Perhaps it's unfashionable to be influenced by someone like Joni rather than by the rather more in-vogue soul influences of your Adeles and Duffys and Amy Winehouses. It's a shame really, but from a selfish perspective, if it means that I continue to get to see her in venues like this with crowds like this (bar the strange nan-nar dancing in her high heels), then that suits me fine. Turns out that the Rescue Rooms does good pizza too. Who knew?

Verdict: 7 / 10 A nice, quiet night.


  1. I don't get it. You thought she was pretty good, yet scored her lower than the uninvolving coldplay?

  2. I'm not sure I thought that they were "uninvolving". I thought that, technically, Coldplay were excellent. I just felt slightly distanced from the gig, and thus marked it down a bit. I enjoyed them, but there was just something about my reaction to the show that bothered me (and I don't think it was anything much to do with them at all). Tina Dico was good, but I don't think she was as good. Simple, innit? It's not really a scientific process, this marking, it's mostly done on gut feel.