On Wednesday 13 March, dodie kicked off the UK leg of the North American and European tour for ‘Human’, her most recent EP. The singer-songwriter started her YouTube channel at the age of 16 and now, at just 23, has achieved global recognition with over 250 million views on her main channel, as well as three independent EPs that have all appeared in the official UK top 40 albums chart.
I was lucky enough to attend dodie’s gig at Bristol’s O2 Academy – having seen her perform live in the same venue almost exactly a year ago, it was clear how much both dodie’s sound and fanbase have grown and developed over just twelve months.
Her set was preceded by two support acts, Orla Gartland and KAWALA. Both were crowd-pleasers, particularly Gartland, who is the guitarist in dodie’s band and runs in the same YouTube-based musical circle. Indie band KAWALA further fuelled the excitable atmosphere, this being the biggest tour they’ve played to date.
Indie band KAWALA fuelled the excitable atmosphere
The beginning of dodie’s set followed the opening of the ‘Human’ EP, starting with ‘Arms Unfolding’, an understated track that plays with themes of heartbreak, hope, and love – all are carried throughout the EP, and were certainly emphasised over the evening. Jumping straight into ‘Monster’, a song with an infectious rhythm that had fans singing along from the very beginning, dodie was backed by an impressive band that added layers of complexity to her melodies, with a guitarist, cellist, violinist, drummer, and bass guitarist harmonising with her classic ukulele-led tunes.
dodie was backed by an impressive band that added layers of complexity to her melodies
The mood was kept thoughtful and mellow by fan favourites ‘Sick of Losing Soulmates’ and ‘6/10’. Speaking to the audience, which largely consisted of young women that have been following dodie’s ongoing strides in the music industry, dodie was frank, emotional, and energetic, thanking those that have come to her gigs time and time again, and opening many of her songs with witty remarks and even a Brexit joke.
‘Burned Out’ and ‘Secret for the Mad’ emphasised her more existential thoughts, highlighting her experiences within the YouTube scene and her mental illness. A vocal advocate of mental health awareness, dodie’s songs are personal and relatable, but it’s clear how her confidence onstage has grown in the past year, as she segued smoothly from these melancholic tunes into more upbeat bops like ‘Party Tattoos’ and ‘Absolutely Smitten’.
it’s clear how her confidence onstage has grown in the past year
Though the audience were very much engaged by the entire evening, it was undoubtedly the songs relating to dodie’s own bisexuality and the wider LGBTQ+ community that had fans tearing up and singing along at the same time. Since coming out in 2016, dodie has been an icon to which young LGBTQ+ fans in particular can look to for support and reassurance. The stage lighting had the audience pulling out their phones to take pictures of the rainbow and bisexual flag colours as, one after another, dodie performed ‘Rainbow’ and ‘She’, two of her songs that openly discuss her feelings towards identifying as bisexual and having an unrequited crush on a woman.
It is this honesty that makes dodie’s lyrics and melodies so poignant, particularly when played live with the raw instrumental strings of her band. The gig also included the debut of a new song that she stated was about “when the person that is meant to love you f***s you up”, which will no doubt soon make its way onto the internet. ‘In the Middle’, one of her most popular songs that features a catchy chorus and fast off-beat electric guitar, drew the night to a close, with fans singing and dancing along, before waving at all the performers as they took a bow.
dodie’s set this year was definitely the best she’s ever sounded – the audience shuffled out still smiling and singing, with many making a beeline for the merch queue. I look forward to seeing her sound and popularity flourish even more in the future, yet it is obvious that she’ll always be loyal to those who have supported her from the start.