Freddie Dickson Welcomes Music & Frieden Into His Family
The age range of attendees stretched from pre-teen to well into middle aged, the venue was small but crowded, and (rather fittingly given his music) there was a heavy air of intimacy about Freddie Dickson’s gig on Wednesday. All of this contributed to a feeling that I had been welcomed into a long overdue family reunion when I arrived at Music & Frieden on a cold and rainy night.
This feeling extends as Freddie arrives on stage and interacts with the crowd. Soft-spoken and understated, he expresses his gratitude to the one hundred strong crowd, and how happy he is to be back in his hometown of Berlin. The crowd reciprocates this with a genuine loving attentiveness. There is even a jovial man who interrupts some of Dickson’s monologues with enthusiastic encouragement. To endorse his approval he thrusts a bottle of beer into Dickson’s hand which was graciously accepted. Most readers will recognise this man from the last time they had to perform something at a Christmas Dinner.
Having just released his second album Blood Street, the London singer/songwriter had arrived in Berlin for the final date of his German tour. This new album is a result of collaborations with drummer Alex Reeves (Elbow, Bat for Lashes), Oh Sister, and Manchester singer/songwriter Amber Lane-McIvor.
Fans of Nick Cave will find a lot to like about this artist. Backed by The Blood Street Band, sparse guitars and distant backing vocals (provided by the wonderfully haunting voice of support act VERA) create a grungey intensity that proves a great atmosphere for Dickson’s songwriting. The gig itself is a rendition of Blood Street from start to finish and this tells in how flawlessly the band executes the set.
As one might imagine from an album called Blood Street, the songwriting is saturated in dark, visceral imagery. However, behind this, there is unmistakably an intimacy in his songs. They deal with everything from relationships (both familial and romantic), his old home town of London and even the Me Too Movement. Freddie Dickson is a story teller and a lot of his songs he prefaces with short monologues that really serve to bring home the sentiment of his music.
For example before State of Grace we are told about a dear friend of Freddie’s who overcomes a crippling illness to dance at his own daughter’s wedding. He tells this story and begins the song alone, his band having vacated the stage for this one. The mood is heavy with sentiment and the lyrics have taken on an extra resonance because of how beautifully set up they have been.
Bunny Man turns the tables on a sexually aggressive record executive. Freddie Dickson explains how he wanted to objectify this character in the same way that women all to often are in the music industry.
Dickson has also drawn comparisons with The National and nowhere is this more apparent than on When I Needed Her The Most which was, for my money, the stand out track of the night. Anyone who is undecided about discovering more of this artist would do well to give this track a spin. It deals with a romantic relationship and Is full of imagery of young love and the influence of the whims of the heart. It is a song refreshing for it’s lack of cynicism.
Dickson departs the stage with a few more words of gratitude that is enthusiastically reciprocated by the crowd. It is a rare thing, to feel like a relative stranger to Freddie Dickson’s music and yet to arrive and feel like I, along with the audience I was a part of, had all been specially invited.
Photo credit: Chris Montgomery