Tina Dico / Ain @ Birmingham Glee Club, 2/3/08

In a recent album review Ain was described as commanding attention by ‘being the quietest person in the room’. However, the ever polite Glee Club audience was silent and still threatened to drown him out. Ain is the archetypal shy, mumbling, floppy-haired singer/songwriter and has produced a decent album of textured subtlety but I found that most of this was lost in a rather too apologetic performance.

With exactly the same stage set-up – a mic and two guitars – Tina Dico made an entirely different impression. Of course, being thoroughly beautiful (if tall, musical, stereotypically Scandinavian girls are your type) doesn’t hurt to make a few jaws go slack around the room, but it was her breezy confidence and strong voice that helped her take the evening by the scruff of the neck.

She opened with a song I didn’t recognise but held all the trademarks of her sound – unadorned guitar work, clear-as-a-bell voice and personal lyrics.

Tina chats amiably between songs and tells us that much of last year’s album ‘In The Red’ was written at a time when she felt at odds with herself and lacked direction, hence the preponderence of lyrics about travelling, isolation and self-discovery. There’s little moping in her songs, however, more a sense of trying to address the problems thrown up by life.

‘On The Run’ had less of its country swing with no backing musicians and had a rather literal take on the theme of running away to find yourself. ‘Cruel To The Sensitive Kind’ was introduced as a musing on the differences between male and female thoughtfulness but the slightly jokey introduction belied a song of keening hope. ‘When You’re Away’ slipped gently into ‘Count To Ten’ which was embellished with a DAT-provided backing and allowed Tina to show a little less restrain.

‘Tenter Ground No. 5’ was another highlight, and we were told that its lonesome strains and coda from ‘The Message’ were written shortly after she arrived in London and was living in a flat with nothing and no-one but office furniture for company.

Tina’s album received a fairly lukewarm review from our esteemed editor who cited an unnecessary attempt at sounding too contemporary. I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment but in a stripped-back live setting, with nothing but a stage, a guitar and her talent, Tina Dico impresses. ‘Sacre Coeur’, the night’s penultimate song, being the embodiment of this.

And so it was that after care-crafted tales of isolation heartbreak the evening found a fitting end in Quarter To Forever, the tale of a kindly old man telling a stressed-looking Tina that there’s no need for rush, no need for hang-ups and no need for worry.

This review was published on Culturedeluxe.

Published by Chris Unitt

I work at One Further, doing digital projects with cultural organisations. Follow @ChrisUnitt or find me on LinkedIn.