By Suzy Harrison
Best known for being the front woman of punk band The Distillers, and then alternative rock band Spinnerette, Brody Dalle has an impressive and distinctive musical resume and in 2012 she made the decision to go it alone. In April this year she releases her debut solo album, Diploid Love. Her performance at The Leadmill in Sheffield was the penultimate date on her first UK solo tour.
Opening for Dalle is Canadian four piece, The Beaches. They give the crowd confident gutsy rock and are a great choice of warm up band. A relatively young group (they started out in 2012) Jordan Miller, Kylie Miller, Eliza Enman McDaniel and Leandra Earl seem to have got the balance right when it comes to creating serious music, whilst still managing to have fun on stage. After their set they look after the merch stand, meeting the fans and selling their t-shirts – it’s nice to see them being down to earth and taking a DIY approach to things.
Despite not being a sold out gig, the venue is pretty busy and there is a good atmosphere in the room. Soon it is time for Brody Dalle and as she walks onto the stage she is given a warm welcome by the crowd. She gives off an air of coolness and her appearance is striking. She comes across less aggressive than she did when she was in The Distillers; she’s clearly in control and confident of how things are going to go tonight. The first song of the set is Rat Race, taken from forthcoming ‘Diploid Love’. It sounds amazing and even though it’s pretty unknown by the majority of people in the room it still goes down a storm. The upbeat Don’t Mess with Me follows.
We are then taken back to the days of ‘Sing Sing Death House’ with Dalle screaming out I am a Revenant with such fresh-sounding energy that you could hardly believe she’s sung this hundreds of times before. Tracks from ‘Coral Fang’ also make an appearance, with performances of Die on a Rope, Dismantle Me and Coral Fang. Interestingly only one Spinnerette track (Ghetto Love) is included in the set, with Dalle handing her guitar to the tech at the side of the stage and then, dancing around the stage with mic in hand, encouraging everyone to dance with her. It only further shows her versatility as a performer.
We’re treated to some more songs from Diploid Love including another single, Parties for Prostitutes, which sounds like a chilled out punk rock waltz. Meet the Foetus/Oh the Joy, which unfortunately doesn’t include an appearance by Garbage’s Shirley Manson; one of Dalle’s band does their best to be a good substitute for Manson – it actually sounds almost as good.
There is one non-Dalle song in the set and it’s one that’s been covered by so many bands over the years that you begin to wonder whether it’s going to work this time or destroy the original masterpiece. But as Dalle and her band start to play Hybrid Moments by The Misfits, it’s clear that she’s made the right decision to cover it. Her vocals work perfectly with the song and it goes down a treat with the crowd.
Having only had the chance to see The Distillers once during their existence, for me this was definitely the next best thing. Brody Dalle is an impressive song-writer and performer, and tonight in Sheffield she showed us that she’s here to stay and is still as strong as ever.