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Manchester Lowry, 1 December 2008

The opening night of Tina Dico's Almost Alone Again tour was a definite success and a very different evening from her previous Manchester gig at the Academy in February.

Firstly, a word for the venue. The Lowry, in the heart of Salford Quays - if not the best, must be one of the finest gigs for a singer songwriter in the North of England (or anywhere for that matter).

Unlike the Academy - no seats and a sticky floor - The Lowry provides plush seating, wonderful acoustics and a welcoming atmosphere. And the staff couldn't have been more accommodating when there was a mix up (again) over GRTR! guest list arrangements - in complete contrast to 'jobsworth' at the Academy where there was a similar debacle.

It would have been nice, however, to be warned in advance that glasses weren't allowed in the auditorium when we'd just ordered two pints of ice cold Guinness in the intermission.

On this short UK tour promoting her A Beginning, A Detour, An Open Ending 3 EP collection (each individually released to coincide with a tour) Tina was accompanied by her long time collaborator and producer Dennis Ahlgren and Helgi Jonsson a classically trained Icelandic trombone player and singer songwriter from Sigur Ros who she met in Canada earlier this year.

Whether Dennis suffers from stage nerves or has a particularly uncomfortable UTI we will probably never know, but he spent much of the evening restlessly fidgeting and exuding nervous energy while providing 'fills' on guitar, drum, keys, maracas and gloc. At times his contribution served to distract rather than complement and had he been from Madchester, some bright spark would no doubt have nicknamed him 'Bez'.

Helgi, on the other hand, was given an almost co-starring role providing vocal harmonies, keys and trombone. His involvement was far more than playing second fiddle, showing real appreciation for Tina's songs by adding real depth, light and shade. This was no more evident than on his haunting tombone accompaniment to Sacre Coeur. The man was magnificent and he could only have been better if he'd had longer arms.

Also, in contrast to the Academy gig, the audience were treated to a full 2 hour set culled from Tina's back catalogue, but with each song given individualist treatment rather than simply regurgitating the recorded version. Commendable, and other artists should take note - if we wanted to listen to the CD we'd put it on at home! Tina's vocals were, as ever, exemplary and the set was over far, far too quickly.

It's difficult to know where to now for Tina Dico. A strategic review of marketing/promotional activities/guest lists may be needed if the opportunity for wider recognition is not to be missed. But in the meantime catch her if you can.

In summary, top marks for the venue, Tina and Helgi. And lets hope Dennis gets better soon.


Review by Pete Whalley


Interview with Tina Dico 29.11.08 (9:31)
© 2008 David Randall/GRTR! All rights reserved.
(Real Audio Player required)

Tina Dico tells us about her tour and new album

You can hear a 10 minute podcast (Part 2 of the interview) by signing up for our Radio RSS feed.

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