Division is dominating us in 2016: between old ideas and new, longstanding traditions and those who stand against them, those who don’t want the things they’ve lived with their whole life, and those who yearn to have them back. It feels more important than ever to find unity wherever we can, to bring the values of all together.
Whether originally intended or not, Brazilian-born electronic singer-songwriter Dillon’s London leg of her This Silence Kills The Unknown tour smacked of solidarity and soul, a human demonstration of togetherness. Standing with a group of 10 female singers onstage, a clear message was sent out: we are always stronger together, with a hypnotising soundtrack to accompany this cry.
The 18th Century Anglican church LSO St Luke’s, now owned by The Barbican, shaped up to accommodate such a show. Newly refurbished, the modernised interior stood adjacent to the grand Hawksmoor-sculpted pillars, cohabiting with ease. It felt as though both architectural generations were propping each other up, helping each other to coexist.
Helping Dillon to coexist with her crowd were Hackney’s Deep Throat Choir, an all-female backing choir that also took the support slot. In their own set, Deep Throat Choir themselves combined old and new musical traditions; while singing in perfect harmony, the singers were backed only by a drumkit, resulting in a rawness of sound comparable to Warpaint, Braids and The Staves. They knew when to be a team of individuals, and when to tighten the screw - tackling indie and soul in equal resilience and producing playful polyphony, their identity emanated from them in spades.
There was nothing explicitly defiant about the headline act, but instead an artist assured in her own identity. When singing alone, the lighting and depth of sound elevated Dillon to something approaching the celestial; though not always the case, it felt as though she were in silhouette, and the audience were pushed further away than previously. Watching the pressing, uncomfortable strobe lighting that brought the rueful 'From One To Six Hundred Kilometers' to a close, it seemed like a barrier, perhaps for the singer to hide behind . In songs like 'You Are My Winter', the alien sounds from the electronic backing felt more imperceptible and dense, while Dillon forced the words out in quiet gasps. In its own way bewitching, the mood changed notably whenever Deep Throat Choir made their entrance. The human presence of a choir made something click in the minds of the audience, and a true connection allowed those watching into the mind of Dillon.
With an onstage persona that initially seemed to wilt at the hard stare of the crowd, what came next from Dillon appeared to shock many – audience participation, of all things. In fact, the quiet accompaniment of the crowd in the slow ballad 'Tip Tapping' provided more than just the best moment of the night. It was confidence, camaraderie and trust – meanwhile, Dillon’s heartfelt pleas for everyone to keep singing was endearingly genuine. Sans choir, the low-key songs were open, to interpretation and engagement; her once introverted character was now sharing everything without a care. An intensely intimate encore saw Dillon finally alone, without the protection of synths or singers. A bare performance of Bodi Bill’s 'Willem' drew back the curtain, allowing people to see Dillon for who she really was – the last trust exercise.
The thunderous acclaim of a crowd won over were the final shouts for togetherness. For Dillon, it was a night of sharing, of music, personality and certainty. To receive and create such warmth in times of brutal opposition can be seen as a thing of beauty in itself.