While Dido albums haven’t exactly come along like buses over the years, it’s in concert that the singer has really become a rare sighting. Currently on her first world tour in 15 years, it seems a very long time since her tasteful balladry was as ubiquitous as Adele’s and Ed Sheeran’s have been since.
Sales for her recent fifth album, Still On My Mind, have not hit the dizzying heights of her early work at the turn of the Millennium, which has put her in venues that better suit her mild sound. Where arenas need grand gestures, her life-sized songs hone in on the details – cold tea and a house by the sea.
While her brother Rollo Armstrong’s band Faithless brought dance music into the living room, his work with Dido saw them domesticate it still further, mixing acoustic guitar with gentle electronic blipping. The more recent popularity of similar acts such as London Grammar and Freya Ridings shows it still works.
In concert her voice was less soft and intimate than on record. She couldn’t drown out the audience chatter when sat on the edge of the stage for the appropriately titled Quiet Times, but at the climax of See You When You’re 40, her four-piece band suddenly appeared to be plugged in, guitarists’ heads were banged and attention was grabbed.
Thank You was slotted into the set halfway through with little fuss. It is her legacy song, setting up her US success when it was sampled by Eminem on Stan, a word which has come to define obsessive fans and is also now the name of Dido’s son.
She prioritised Have to Stay, a new ballad about her boy, and White Flag for her encore. Worth the wait? Maybe not, but a cosy trip down memory lane for many.