words: Katie Wighton // photos: Rick Clifford @rcstills
“The world hasn't lost all of its discerning listeners and Didirri is uniting them under the banner of honesty, earnestness and a love of completely artful music.”
There is an alarming trend at the moment. It's called Slacker Rock and I personally don't care for it. Slacker Rock embodies everything I hate – apathy, disrespect and a total lack of appreciation for an audience spending their hard earned money and precious time going out to see live music. Fortunately tonight my hope that this horrible trend is on the way out was bolstered.
First onstage was Merpire. This peach-haired indie-pop goddess will be a household name one day very soon, mark my words. The room is packed for her set – a mean feat as first support in a lineup like this. By the second song it's pin-drop quiet out here in the crowd except for the sound of about 200 people's tears hitting the ground. Merpire's eyes stare out at us, almost through us as she sings “I won't get over, won't get over you.” and we are all right there with her. Her music manages to capture the seemingly undefinable and blindingly unbearable feeling of a broken heart.
The harmonies from James Seymour (Feelds) and Mimi Glibert are stunning. Think Fleetwood Mac combined with Fleet Foxes. Her band is totally in command of the music and the stage, yet never steal the attention away from Merpire. But to be fair, that is in itself would be an almost insurmountable task. There is something about her that is completely spellbinding. I suspect she's some kind of faerie...
Merpire's voice goes from spine-chillingly delicate (like spider webs of toffee) to insanely powerful (like a lion's roar) in her song Dinosaur as she sings “I made the cage I'm in, I'm tired of my skin.” Merpire will totally demolish you. But don't worry, she'll put your shattered heart right back together again. And you'll be better for it.
The curtain opens on Emerson Snowe who looks like the lovechild of Noel Fielding and Alex from Stanley Kubrick's interpretation of A Clockwork Orange. Snowe opens the set with a cover of a Daniel Johnston song True Love Will Find You In The End which is one of my favourite songs ever and Emerson absolutely does it justice. At first we can't quite work out what to make of the brash interactions with the audience; Snowe stops mid-song to accost the “chitty-chatterers” and waits for silence. All the while pacing the stage attacking his nylon string guitar as if it's wronged him in some way. And then he sings these lyrics. With this voice. And we realise he's actually just a big sweetheart who wants you to hear what he has to say. And hey, that's what we're there to do, right?
He is a powerful and hilarious presence on stage and gives us the freedom to laugh with him whilst also reminding us that music is to be listened to – not talked over. His cover of a song by the band Half-Japanese called One Million Kisses with lyrics like 'One million kisses for one million girls but no kisses left for you.” is sassy as hell. His set is kind of like a punk cabaret show and by the end of it I'm totally obsessed. His final song If I Die, Then I Die is truly majestic and I can already tell I will be listening to it on repeat while I drink rose and sway from side to side with my eyes closed in my backyard.
Didirri is one of the few artists these days who actually puts on a show. From the moment he sets foot on stage to the moment the curtain closes, he is completely committed to putting on the best hour and a half of music he can and what a sight to behold! His voice is unbelievably powerful and, at just 23 years old, his confidence onstage is transfixing. He gently holds the audience in the palm of his hand and tells us lovely, long, sometimes meandering stories. Stories about his life, his parent's lives, his brother, his highs and lows, his girlfriend. We are completely silent and hang off his every word. In an age where it seems to be difficult for men to talk about their emotions his earnest and heartfelt honesty is a breath of fresh air.
His band comprises an incredible bunch of musicians and Didirri appreciates them beyond words. He kneels down during the guitar solos and looks up adoringly while Daniel, his guitarist, goes totally insane. His drummer and bassist are also completely devoted to Didirri's music, not to mention ridiculously good at music.
About three-quarters of the way through the set Didirri disappears. The audience seem slightly miffed. We look around in search of our pale-faced, long-haired hero. And, like a vampire, he suddenly appears sitting at a keyboard on the other small stage in the corner. He opens his mouth and sings Vincent by Don Maclean and this is the moment that really captures me. This is THE moment of the whole damn show. His voice is absolutely, ridiculously, hauntingly, impossibly beautiful and the keyboard accompaniment is heart-stoppingly perfect. He could be on the black and white screen of a television set in 1965. He could be Frank Sinatra sitting on a stool against a blood red, velvet curtain. But he's not. He's Didirri. He is 23 and it's 2018.
It's in this moment that I breathe a sigh of relief because I look around me and 800 hipsters are completely losing their shit over a song that Don Maclean wrote about Vincent Van Gough in 1972 and they are completely silent. These people are music lovers. And there are so many of them! The love of beautiful music isn't dead. The world hasn't lost all of its discerning listeners and Didirri is uniting them under the banner of honesty, earnestness and a love of completely artful music. I hope with every living cell in my body that tonight is an indication of a change in the wind - out with Slacker Rock, in with Didirri.