- 19 Mar 19
Before dodie even arrives on stage, the love filling Vicar Street’s intimate concert hall is palpable. Hardcore fans with glitter dotting their cheeks exchange sips of water, while the crowd filters in and knits themselves together.
‘dodie’ is the stage name of Dodie Clark, a 23-year-old English singer-songwriter who got her start posting videos to YouTube in 2011. She has since gained a following of millions and moved towards releasing more professionally produced tracks, including her latest album and current tour’s namesake, Human (2019). For her Vicar Street, dodie is supported by Dublin native Orla Gartland and London-based band KAWALA, headed by Daniel McCarthy (guitar and vocals) and Jim Higson (lead vocals).
Gartland begins the concert with seven songs showcasing her clean, honest vocals. “I’ve been telling everyone on this tour how good the crowds in Dublin are,” says Gartland, as she encourages the audience to sing backup on the existential bop ‘Why Am I Like This?’ as loudly as they can. Gartland’s savvy instrumental skills are also evident in her setlist - after trying her hand at the drums and acoustic guitar, Gartland stands alone with her pastel pink electric guitar for a raw performance of an as-yet-unreleased song, ‘Inevitable,’ – leaving the audience in awe.
After jamming out to fan favorite anthem ‘I Go Crazy,’ Gartland concedes the stage to KAWALA, who are instantly embraced by the crowd. The four-piece band play seven songs, this time prompting those present to dance along with singer Jim Higson’s self-proclaimed “unique” and endearing moves that secure the audience’s approval. Said moves are put on full display during upbeat, catchy tunes like ‘Do It Like You Do’ and ‘Funky.’
dodie then enters the venue along with her five band members to a wild rush of screams and cheers. The ecstatic atmosphere is in contrast to the tone of her first song, ‘Arms Unfolding,’ a chilled-out number accompanied only by hummed harmonies recorded from Clark’s own voice.
Most of the audience members know the words to all fourteen dodie tunes by heart. They follow her melodies as she moves from her opening song to high-energy standout single ‘Monster’ with ease. Here, Clark lets loose, her tied up crop top and tea-length skirt allowing for a dreamy dance as the song culminates in its trademark clapping sequences.
The rest of the set proceeds in a similar pattern of subdued songs being followed up by rousing numbers. The haunting, exhausted melody ‘Burnt Out’, for example, which hashes out Clark’s battle with her overactive “brain on fire,” was intentionally juxtaposed with the uplifting comfort provided by ‘Secret for the Mad,’ which tells of Clark’s path to recovery. She’s gut-wrenchingly honest, her mellow, intimate tone poignantly narrating the highs and the lows of life.
After reaching back to older songs such as the indie classic ‘You’ and looking forward to sure-to-be hits like the unreleased ‘Guiltless,’ dodie leaves the stage to a chorus of football anthems chanted by the audience. Of course, she promptly returns for an encore of four up-tempo fan favorites, culminating in the fantastically naughty ‘In the Middle.’
As the lights dim and glow to the beat of Clark’s drum, the audience lose themselves in tandem with her refreshingly unfettered movements. The room shines, and so too does Clark.
As a performer who’s fluid, empathetic and free-flowing, dodie is willing to share in both joy and hardship with anyone who dares to listen. She is unafraid of emotion – both Clark and many in the audience (myself included) shed a tear over the course of the night – and she is, as the title of her album makes clear, quite delightfully human.