[GIG REVIEW] Rhodes @ Thekla, Bristol, 3rd October 2015

The stillness of a sold-out Bristol venue became evident in the few minutes leading up to the headline performance from Hitchin based singer-songwriter David Rhodes (bearing the stage name of Rhodes). As the light in the room transformed into an eerie dimness, Moby’s ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad’ resonated through the monitors. The spectators remained stationary, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Rhodes and his four-piece band.
Scarlet lighting enveloped the staging, the music faded, and the grand entrée from the musicians took place, closely followed by the appearance of the main man himself, already  receiving immense applause.

Commencing with the well-known ‘Intro’ from his début LP, Rhodes naturally initiated the build to the climax necessary for a captivating performance. By launching into stripped back guitar and vocals he solely established his key role as singer-songwriter from the instant the melody emerged, with his band gradually layering the number as it progressed. Consisting of varied instrumentation (such as the haunting cello), an atmospheric sound and ambience flooded the space, rightfully engaging the public with emotion and awe.

Closely following with the familiar single ‘Close Your Eyes,’ Rhodes emerged as a more self-assured frontman, demonstrating his undeniably distinctive vocal whilst commanding the crowd with his captivating lyrical expertise. Euphonious harmonies guaranteed sensational spine-tingling moments throughout, particularly when escalating to the main choruses.

Diversifying the set, Rhodes took to the crimson keyboard at the side of the stage to perform moving ballad ‘Somebody’, communicating powerful emotion by the means of his very precise, expressive vocal. The song’s lyrics ‘I need to find an easy way to live,’ were conveyed with such sentimental accuracy that one could not help being transfixed for the duration of the track.

As the set progressed, Rhodes indicated how grateful he was for the opportunity to be able to play his own headline tour and how he had managed to overcome his fears of playing to crowds over the past few years. ‘Raise Your Love’ was yet another beautifully performed track, ultimately displaying his new-found confidence combined with unpretentious musicianship, one could fully grasp how committed this genuine artist is and how heartfelt his accomplishments are.

‘Breathe’ was executed effortlessly by Rhodes as an acoustic solo performance, accurately displaying his flawless vocals accompanied by an undecorated guitar element. It’s appreciable how comfortable he was playing as a solo artist without the help of a backing band, this was reflected by the admirable silence in the room as the crowd watched in respect toward the artist. The dynamics were precisely placed, proving Rhodes to be an impeccable vocalist with natural fluidity.

Driving the set with a fluent pace, Rhodes took to the keys once again to play title track from the album ‘Wishes.’ Full of climatic embellishments, the chorus of this particular piece was poignant, with moving lyrics and compelling backing it felt like the grand moment of the night. Proceeding with ‘Let It All Go’ (originally a duet with Birdy), Rhodes commanded the track as a soloist by adapting the vocals to suit him. The tune sounded magical, incorporating melodious harmonies with the bass line of the cello, the instrumentation gave it that impacting sense of graphic emotion.

Introducing tracks old and new, Rhodes drew the set to a close with the recognisable ‘Your Soul’ and ‘Turning Back Around.’ He made certain that he portrayed the tracks flawlessly, with a steady drum beat ensuring that the set culminated with the ultimate positive impact. Receiving an utterly enthusiastic response, Rhodes provided the audience with a special solo performance of acoustic bonus track ‘Morning’. The venue enveloped a sense of peacefulness whilst appreciating the last few momentous minutes of witnessing an authentic, talented artist with vocals so precise and unique.

Rhodes displayed his true musicianship on the ‘Wishes’ tour and performed with such perfection and accuracy along with a modest touch, that one can only appreciate his talent even more. Continuing the tour this week with a headline show at London’s KOKO, this is only the beginning for Rhodes and he is undoubtedly a genuine artist full of exciting ideas and powerful live performances.

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