Review: RHODES

Published

Amber Hinde and Izzy Birks
Writers

The best thing to happen since James Bay, David Rhodes (RHODES) proved a pleasure to chat to before the sold out Glasgow installment of his ‘Wishes’ tour at the iconic King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.  From songwriting to The Great British Bake Off, he proved both humble and entertaining.  Having just released his debut album ‘Wishes’, we were eager to delve deeper into his life as a musician.  Unpretentious, authentic and wholeheartedly passionate about originality, we know this is merely the beginning of a compelling musical journey for this genuine artist.

“It’s incredible to be playing in such a packed room at King Tut’s!”  RHODES addressed his crowd with both modesty and gratitude before captivating the room with his breath-taking raw talent.  One of many successful installments of his Wishes tour showcasing his debut album, RHODES exceeded every expectation.  During our interview, David appeared slightly apprehensive at the prospect of playing a sold out gig in one of Glasgow’s most iconic music venues.  He referred to his predecessors at King Tut’s, such as Biffy Clyro, and seemed extremely honoured to be playing at such an iconic venue.  Home to Glasgow’s ‘Walk of Fame’, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, which has been awarded the UK’s best live music venue by Radio 1, boasts some of the greatest musical acts since 1990.  After blessing us with such a momentous evening, it’s evident that RHODES deserves to join his fellow musicians on the seminal staircase.  

Supporting RHODES was the edgy and very appropriate JP Cooper, who has been hailed by some as the ‘future sound of 2015.’ His lyricism and acoustically faultless vocals proved the perfect complementary act for a night of astounding musical showmanship. Cooper was even described as ‘a tough act to follow’ by the star of the evening.  His enigmatic and dark appearance was stripped back completely when he became emotional through his poignant performance of ‘Closer’, which he wrote for his young son. Both the support and the main act of the evening showcased an intensely personal portrayal of their candid natures through song.  

For an evening of such musicianship, there were many moments of silence to be cherished; the control over the audience was unmistakable.  The minimalistic appearance of the stage paired with the dim lighting provided the perfect backdrop for such a sincere performance. Stepping up to the microphone, RHODES instantly held the awkward charm of “the boy next door,” breaking into a shy smile between sentences and showcasing his unpretentious personality. Opening the gig with his emotionally-charged single ‘Close Your Eyes’, the power and range of his voice reached every corner of the room, an admirable exhibition of vocal depth. The versatility of his voice was accompanied by both guitar and piano, the conduct of a fervent instrumentalist. The meticulous deliberation over each note could be sensed through his animated body language, he was totally lost in the music.  During the interview, David spoke about his album being written by the seaside, and the inspiration derived from this setting could be derived from the soothing nature of his performance. Among the audience there was real amazement regarding his vocal range. RHODES struck a subconscious yet effective paradox hitting challenging notes on one end of the scale to then nervously whispering ‘thank you’ into his microphone after completing his songs.

Furthermore, a particular poignant moment of his performance came with his song ‘Breathe’, which he wrote for a friend in need. The title of the song was apt here as every breath could be heard due to the complete captivation of the audience; an example of the ‘silence’ aforementioned. The personal importance of this song could be perceived by the way his voice began to crack as his sang the chorus. From witnessing this it has to be said that his studio album does not do his extremely powerful voice justice, this singer is made to be heard live.  The predominantly dark set was appropriately brought to life through blue and red back light, blue for soothing songs such as ‘Breathe’ and a lively red for more up-tempo songs like ‘Raise Your Love.’

His connection with the audience was noteworthy, and the mutual respect between RHODES and his fans  was clear when he took the time after the show to meet each person individually.  He even proposed a ‘fireside chat’ with those who felt so inclined and requested vodka and Irn Bru all round, truly embracing the Scottish drinking culture.  The singer was also very apologetic to those who had sacrificed the Great British Bake Off final, yes, the final, to be at the gig.  He thanked those who had done so and assured everyone that BBC iPlayer would be his first port of call when he arrived back at his hotel.  During our interview, he commented on the fact that Paul Hollywood ‘really shoves the food in’ and questioned Mary Berry’s slim figure in relation to her cake consumption.  After a persuasive demand for an encore, he ended the set on a characteristically personal note, singing an acoustically flawless rendition of the first song he ever wrote, ‘Morning’; a highly appropriate finale to such an exposed performance from such an intuitive songwriter.

Endearing, empowering and evocative, it is unsurprising that RHODES has already supported huge names such as Sam Smith and London Grammar.  For someone who had dreamt ardently of being a guitarist, he has achieved this and more.  With a second album on the cards for next year, we are almost certain that his success is going to grow exponentially.  Having only just released ‘Wishes’, it can be said that this really is only the beginning.  Wishes’ is now available on the ITunes store, and we recommend the Deluxe Version which features his cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ alongside other special tracks.  If you appreciate the singer/songwriter arrangement, this is a voice not to be overlooked.