SWX, Bristol - 18/02/23
Always make sure you get to a gig in time for the support act. Sometimes it feels that said support should really be the at top of the bill that night, they gain traction and then become, rightfully, incredibly hyped.
That's exactly what happened for me with DYLAN, the singer-songwriter that without a single doubt, was born to be on the stage.
Having only seen her on support slots and at a stripped back record store show, I was very excited to get down to Bristol's SWX on Saturday night (18/02/23), to see her play to an absolutely packed-out crowd of her own fans.
Making her return to the city, this time to promote new mixtape, The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn, released back in October, DYLAN’s show is a triumph from start to finish.
At the unusually early time of 8:30, the stage is illuminated by the “DYLAN” sign centre stage, as the singer struts on in a red mesh crop top, mini-skirt and thigh-high black boots carrying a famously doodled on electric guitar. Lovestruckfollows, as the crowd predominantly made up of teenage girls erupts into screams.
“Bristol!” DYLAN shouts, as she is greeted by yet more screaming, before going into eponymous track, The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn, one of the more guitar riff heavy tracks in her discography. Ironically, though, the majority of the music tonight is backing track, despite DYLAN being joined onstage by guitarist, Rosie Botterill and drummer, Connor Hopkins.
It’s not just a set that focuses on the new, however. The nostalgic Taylor Swift-esque, Nineteen, complete with its references to the queen of pop herself, sees the audience sing along to every single lyric as DYLAN dances around the stage. Tracks such as Someone Else and You’re Not Quite Harry Styles, from DYLAN’S 2021 EP, No Romeo, are also stand out moments of the set channelling frustration and anger to lovers that really aren’t worth your time (a recurring theme within her music). During the former, DYLAN encourages the crowd that she has firmly in the palm of her hand from the get-go, to put their middle fingers up in the air as they sing along to the lyrics “‘Cause I love you and you love someone else”
On the contrast, however, the show also has a moment of solitude in the form of emotional Home Is Where The Heart Is, a touching song that DYLAN wrote off the back of a tour. The fans respond with a sea of iPhone torches, adding to the atmosphere and tenderness of the song and its themes.
There are also moments that offer a real treat for tonight’s sold-out affair. Currently unreleased, but out in a week’s time (at the time of publish, the track has now been released), is Every Heart But Mine, the catchy pop-anthem made complete with a choir on the chorus. DYLAN teaches this chorus to the crowd before the song starts, but for an unreleased track, it was truly impressive when the lines rolled around and the entire room echoed with the sound, as fans in the front few rows held up red heart balloons.
Later in the show, DYLAN explains that she has a surprise and that the next five minutes should not be circulated online in a feat to not ruin the show for those yet to see it. Beforehand, she plays Treat You Bad, which leads straight into a surprise that caused the crowd to go wilder than they previously had… but you’ll just have to go and see DYLAN live to know what I’m referring to here.
Closing out an hour later are hits, No Romeo, arguably one of the singer’s biggest tracks, which every member in attendance knows the words to, whilst DYLAN waves the lesbian flag. She thanks the crowd and apologises to anyone who might’ve bought a ticket expecting to see Bob, following a poor guy previously making that exact blunder. And fittingly, following a great gig, the set ends with newer track, Nothing Lasts Forever, one last dance, before DYLAN shimmies off the stage, stopping to wave back at the crowd in a pantomime style as the house lights come up.
Whether there for the anthemic, rising popstar, or by mistake following a name mix-up, it’s got to be admitted that this is a short, but sweet, hour of true pop ‘n’ roll (as George Ezra famously puts it). DYLAN is taking leaps forwards following the support days, and one can be sure that bigger stages await.