Live Review: Dollie Demi – Manchester

Dollie Demi

Manchester, The Castle Hotel, 14th February 2020

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

So what did you do on Valentine’s Day?  Something romantic?  Something deliberately and unashamedly fun and cheesy?  Or did you go to a gig on your own because watching a three bands in a classic gig venue is undoubtedly how you prefer to spend Friday nights?  If you answered yes to the latter, and you’re not me, then choose the high five gif of your preference next  time you’re on social media.  I spent February 14th at The Castle Hotel in Manchester watching three supremely talented young acts – all for less the price of a dessert.

Izzi NaimskiOpening up the show was Izzi Naimski and her band.  Now of the three acts on the bill, Izzi’s was the band that gave me the least enjoyment, but that’s because my musical taste does not match with theirs.  If you wanted listening milestones, I’d say Yacht Rock to Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac for the final two songs of their set.  They are going to make music which lots of people will enjoy.  The dreamy surfer sound with a funky bassline showed off great musicianship that allowed the dusky warm vocal of Izzi the freedom to elegantly take the audience on a journey that seemed far from a wet winter’s night in Manchester.  It was great to see too how much the band interacted with each other as they were playing.  You knew that they were supremely confident on stage and enjoy being in a band together.

The reason I was at the gig comes back to October 2018 and Dream Wife’s tour having local support acts as well as the majestic Queen Zee.  Dollie Demi had been chosen for the Manchester show, and then later had been included as part of Dream Wife’s Tour Support Reimagined compilation LP (you really need to listen to it, it’s ace).  One of the other support bands, and indeed the LP openers, Brighton-based ARXX had been invited up by Dollie Demi to play before going over to Leeds for Girl Gang Leeds’ birthday party show on the Saturday.

ARXXAs the Brighton duo took to the stage, they instantly grabbed the attention in their white overalls with seasonal red lovehearts stuck on in homemade fashion.  Such was the energy their set produced that by the close of their thirty minutes several of those hearts had found a new home on the floor.  ARXX have that most wonderful and simple combination of drums and guitar played loudly that turned Jack White into a global star, albeit with House of Blues replaced with garage of drummer in their sound.  I was impressed with the band for their music, but their comfort and wit between the tracks also drew in the crowd.  The highpoint of music and stagecraft came with a track from their Wrong Girl, Honey EP, “this one is called Swallowed The Sun, it’s about being dumped, happy Valentine’s Day”.

And then on to the headliners, Dollie Demi.  It’s been a few months since I’ve seen the band perform, but it seems that in the meantime they’ve gone considerably heavier in sound than I’ve heard them before.  And I love it.  They still have the disco basslines to get you dancing, but the guitar licks over it are now searing like a crackle of lightning, all supported by the thunderous-yet-fun drummingDollie Demi 2 to create a cocktail of sound that would in liquid form change an awkward date into a wild party.  And that’s without the eponymous Demi who allows all of her prowling on-stage persona to be suitably vocalised.  At one point she acts as a cheerleader to the audience “do you all know you’re… SEXY AS F” turning stage patter into the epilogue of Sexy As F getting a big roar of approval.

Dollie Demi are one of those bands almost everybody will enjoy watching because they have a combination of attitude, personality, and fun; and it is so infectious.  As Demi and Mia (bass) wander and sing/play through the crowd during their triumphant finale, people don’t scarper awkwardly like there are forcefields around the players, but stay close to the them, and Ella and Anna on stage, to encourage and celebrate.

It’s a party and Dollie Demi want everybody to join in.

 

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