Rhodes Plays Spellbinding Show In Bristol

by Emily Pratten

After a busy summer of supporting big names such as London Grammar, Hozier, and Ben Howard, this past month or so has seen this up-and-coming singer-songwriter embark upon his biggest headline tour to date.

The room became completely silent as the lights dimmed and there was definite anticipation and energy in the air. It is likely that many in the audience had heard his beautiful music but were yet to experience it live, and you could feel the eagerness and excitement in the small Bristol hall. David Rhodes stepped onto the stage dressed simply, all in black, quietly walking towards his guitar and waving briefly at the applauding crowd before picking up his instrument.

For the next half hour to forty minutes, it was a truly enchanting experience. Rhodes’ voice was raw and his stage presence calm and collected. He was simultaneously effortlessly cool and yet very easy to connect with, very emotionally open. He played older tracks, Worry and Raise Your Love, on his own, lulling the audience. Without wishing to be too poetic and over the top about it, it really was a magical experience, and even those who are not fans of his music or have heard him previously would have been very much engaged with the performance. He rarely missed a note in a pretty much flawless vocal performance. His songs sound great recorded but his voice breaks and cracks when performing live, and there is a greater level of depth and feeling than you could ever possibly gauge from an MP3 file.

Rhodes brought on some friends to help him play some new songs (which continue to be absolutely superb), and as he chatted between songs he mentioned an upcoming album that he’s begun to work on, which, given the quality of the new material heard on the evening, is very exciting indeed. He seemed comfortable with the crowd, quiet and modest, smiling and chuckling in places. For the eagerly anticipated Your Soul, the band remained, and his textured voice and flawless guitar playing echoed around the venue, accompanied by impressive and controlled percussion and piano pieces. His fellow musicians were extremely talented.

For the finale, the band left and Rhodes put his guitar down, instead wandering over to the piano. He went to sit before realising there was no chair, and after looking slightly puzzled decided to play What If at the piano, standing up. This track from his new EP, Home, is already a fairly emotional piece, and the atmosphere in the room was perfectly still as he ended his show with the question, “What if love is a feeling to believe in?’. It’s difficult to describe, and this review was always going to be very much written in his favour given my love of the artist, but even I was truly surprised and blown away by his performance, despite having seen him perform before. Many a song that evening brought a tear to my eye, but What If was the one that managed to get a tear to fall.

It was a truly remarkable set and I would implore that whenever possible, everyone goes and sees him at least once. Having performed on Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer and continuing to create extremely good music in a very competitive genre, he is certainly going to be very successful. He is also one of the most genuine and kind musicians I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to, and it’s almost difficult to imagine that the smiling and friendly man you chat to after the performance is the same man that was on stage baring his soul for the world to see just minutes before.