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Billboard FEBRUARY 1, 2013 - by Richard Smirke
DIDO ENDS HIATUS, DEBUTS 'GIRL WHO GOT AWAY' SONGS IN LONDON
"I won't take so long with the next one," she says at exclusive concert previewing her first album since 2008.
Dido made a triumphant live return in London Thursday night (January 31), performing an exclusive acoustic set to invited guests and media at a private members' club in Mayfair.
It was the British singer's first public performance in close to five years, although she displayed few nerves as she debuted several tracks from her forthcoming album Girl Who Got Away, which will be released March 4 in the U.K. and March 26 in the U.S. on Sony/RCA Records.
Earlier in the evening, guests were treated to a playback of six album tracks, including standout cut Let Us Move On featuring Kendrick Lamar. Of the other new material played, Girl Who Got Away retains the same winning mix of soulful, melodic pop, brooding folk and ambient electronic production that distinguished Dido's previous studio albums, 1999's No Angel, 2003's Life For Rent and 2008's Safe Trip Home and helped make the U.K. vocalist a huge international star.
"I haven't actually performed in front of anyone for five years so this could go either way," she joked with the hundred-strong audience - which included recently-appointed RCA U.K. boss Colin Barlow, Sony Music U.K. chairman and CEO Nick Gatfield, Sony Music president and CEO of international Edgar Berger and Dido's manager Craig Logan - at Mayfair's Arts Club before launching into a stirring playback of Girl Who Got Away lead single No Freedom, backed by a percussionist and second guitarist. A run through the album's folk-flavoured title track - complete with the memorable chorus "If only for tonight, I want to be the girl who got away" - was similarly well-received, as was a rendition of Dido's breakthrough single Thank You, which Eminem famously sampled in his 2000 hit single Stan. Introducing the song, Dido dedicated it to her long-time label home, Sony/RCA, for being so patient during the four-year period that has elapsed since Safe Trip Home and this year's comeback set Girl Who Got Away.
"I won't take so long with the next one," she said with a smile, before wrapping the four-song set with a powerful rendition of 2003 single White Flag.
Girl Who Got Away was written and recorded alongside Dido's brother, long-term creative partner and founder member of U.K. dance band Faithless, Rollo Armstrong, who produced the majority of its tracks. The album also features collaborations with Brian Eno, Jeff Bhasker, Rick Nowels, Greg Kurstin and Kendrick Lamar.
"It was an incredibly fun record to make," Dido recently said about Girl Who Got Away. "There was no pressure on me at all. It's all been so natural and easy. On every other record I've made, there have been really tricky days, but there weren't any like that on this one." According to her label, Dido has sold over twenty-nine million albums worldwide.