It was nearly a year ago I first heard the name. Didirri. Exchanging tips with a lady from Melbourne at the Gospel Brunch in Nashville at the closing moments of AmericanaFest. Who’s the most exciting artist from New Zealand? Marlon, I don’t hesitate. And who’s yours? Didirri. What’s that? I say. A young man on the way... is her reply. Actually, (spoiler) it means “deep, quiet listening” and it’s his actual name, as I find out last night.
But, mental note, look out for him, and lo and behold he appears on the list a few weeks later, scheduled to play in February or March, earlier this year. Then he postpones, and finally, he is here at the Tuning Fork in Auckland, NZ.
I’m going totally deaf and blind. Haven’t heard a thing. Know next to nothing. Want to be surprised.
But before that can happen, Sophie Gibson opens with a charming set of originals and a couple of covers. Sophie hails from Tauranga, studies music in Auckland, and has just a little twang which I assume to be Scottish via her parents. Beautiful voice. The covers are done with love and care (Songbird, I’d Rather Go Blind). The originals show much potential, and I’d like to see her with her band before completing an assessment. Much promise, that’s for sure. So much new talent.
Ok, it’s Didirri time. Modest turnout, but mainly young and female. And he is handsome and young and lithe. But it’s not pop that jumps out as the band strike up, it’s a dazzling guitar solo which introduces Breathe and I’m liberated from my suspense. I’m taken back 23 years, and can’t quite believe it, so will withhold my judgement until I’ve heard more.
It’s Daniel O’Keefe on guitar, he is to Didirri what Oskar Herbig is to Stan (Skyscraper Stan). Elevates him, his voice and his songs. Rory Walker on bass and Isaac Barter on drums provide the up and down rhythm which drive the structure of his songs, slow, then build, then occasionally crescendo, then back down. It’s not new, but there is something…
There’s a lot of Jeff Buckley in this young man. The songs, the structures, the rhythm, the range. Ok not the full Buckley range, but bloody close. Didirri. It’s his name. It’s his sound. It’s our gain...
Didirri’s not been doing this long, three, maybe four years. A handful of songs recorded, but hang on, where must he have been in a previous life? The serenity and depth of these songs belie his youth.
Ok, one song has been around six years, and other artists have broken through in their teens, but this young man has an old brain in his head. The lyrics, the banter, the motivations are mature. There is folk, there’s Americana, and there’s indie rock in the mix, and there’s a star in the making.
Ok, I’m going to make a big call. Fellow Radio 13 writer and DJ Boylee will be onto me like a limpet. I’m transported back 23 years to a concert by an artist I was privileged to see just before he died trying to swim with his clothes on.
There’s a lot of Jeff Buckley in this young man. The songs, the structures, the rhythm, the range. Ok not the full Buckley range, but bloody close. Didirri. It’s his name. It’s his sound. It’s our gain.
Nothing else to say. Oh yes, Stive does a great job on the sound. It’s hard to get loud and clear. Especially in a small, intimate venue. Stive does it, and that’s why Didirri salutes him and takes him on tour.
Thanks to the Tuning Fork. We’re lost without you.
- Bird Sounds
- Blind You
- Worth the Weight
- Blue Mood Rising
- Raw Stuff
- Tea Stains
- I Can’t Get Last Night Out Of My Head