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Latest review, 18 February
Manchester Academy 3, 3 March 2008
It's a sad indictment of today's music industry (and punters) that a
singer songwriter as talented as Tina Dico can't sell out the Manchester
Academy 3. Granted it was a cold, wet, miserable night in the North West,
but there was a serious musical talent to be unearthed for those who
About 100 hardy souls, most of whom appeared to be converts or devotees,
attended to witness a somewhat short set comprising of material mainly off
her excellent 'In The Red' album which she wrestled back from Sony BMG
when that label dropped her on their merger several years ago, and the
terrific new album 'Count To Ten'.
With just Tina and her guitar, the strength of the songs stood out - the
gaps left by the absence of a band adding just as much as they detracted.
Certainly they let Tina's bittersweet vocals shine - revealing beauty,
vulnerability and sadness.
Many of her songs appear to mask a troubled past - troubled as in
relationships and her art. Six years after moving to London she may be
more at ease with herself now, but there is still a strain of melancholy
and yearning in much of her material.
This short UK tour is guaranteed to gain her more admirers but it's
difficult to put your finger on her target demographic. Quite how to tap
into the Sheryl Crow audience, spoon-fed on the likes of Joni Mitchell and
Tori Amos, is a conundrum. It seems unlikely a younger audience fed on a
diet of Hot Chip would relate to her well-crafted tales of love, labours
If you get into Tina via her latest album, you should investigate the
expanded version of 'In the Red' (with bonus CD) and here we had excellent
stripped-down versions of 'Warm Sand', 'Room With A View' and 'Headshop'.
Tina thinks the production on 'In the Red' is glossier to satisfy major
label taste and the new album 'Count To Ten' a little more raw and
organic. Most would be hard pushed to spot the difference. Whatever, there
are some great songs on the latest offering including the title track,
'You Know Better', 'On The Run' (which she described as her rockiest
number) and the sublime 'Sacre Coeur', all performed here.
In finishing with 'Magic' - with its graphic sexual imagery - she
demonstrated perfectly her directness and fragility.
It's a tough world out there for the singer-songwriter. Breaking out of
her home market (where she has had considerable success) will never be
easy and one wonders in the present topsy-turvy musical climate what
direction here career will take. Gigs in the States this spring will
surely widen her influence and a support slot on a major artist tour
wouldn't go amiss.
The major gripe about this gig (venue aside) was that at around 60
minutes (including encores) it was just too short. That aside, it
reaffirmed what a wonderful live performer Tina Dico is. Make sure you
check out her out if, as hinted at post-gig, she returns for a further UK
tour later this year.
Review by Pete Whalley & David Randall
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