NEW YORK While wrapping up a U.S. tour Monday, British singer/songwriter Dido Armstrong didn't forget to thank the unlikely man who perhaps has done more for her career than anyone.
Controversial rapper Eminem, whom the 28-year-old Dido called a "charming little fellow" from the Roseland Ballroom stage, sampled a verse from Dido's "Thankyou" (RealAudio excerpt) to give his pathological powder keg "Stan" its emotional weight.
Dido thanked Eminem as the one who "brought the song to the attention of the masses."
In "Stan" (RealAudio excerpt), which appears on Eminem's recent multiplatinum The Marshall Mathers LP, the words "Put your picture on my wall/ It reminds me that it's not so bad" are used to create the image of a disaffected, obsessed and heartbroken fan. In "Thankyou," from Dido's 1999 album No Angel, they form the heart of a gentle love song.
"It's a little song about friendship," the blond-haired Dido, dressed in a glittery red top with spaghetti straps and tight jeans, announced to the crowd of several thousand people, a majority of whom were young women.
" 'Thankyou' is the reason I bought the album in the first place," said Shelley Stephenson, a 25-year-old concertgoer from Rockland County, N.J.
"She's an amazing singer. Every song is amazing," said her friend, Liz Boumatnov, also 25.
Dido, a former child prodigy, attended the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. She plays piano, violin and recorder, though she stuck only to singing on Monday.
She got her start in pop music as a vocalist for Faithless. The band scored a UK hit in 1997 with the dance song "Salve Mea (My Salvation)," and their album Reverence went gold in 22 countries.
Her music Monday night was a distinctively British pop blend. Over the course of 13 songs many from No Angel, at #92 on the Billboard 200 albums chart the vocals were airy. The drums echoed. The arrangements were awash in keyboards and heavy bass.
The vibe hovered somewhere between a dream and a nightmare; Dido's voice, an effusive but melancholic instrument, made sure of that. Drummer Alex Alexander helped drive a sense of mystery into the songs by playing bongos on several occasions.
The singer used her lyrics to explore relationships, commitment and self-acceptance. She conveyed her relaxed emotions by pacing the front of the stage and swinging her arms loosely. Dido went uptempo, reaching the heights of dance music on "Hunter" and "I'm No Angel" (RealAudio excerpt).
Several of her other songs took the form of energetic ballads. "All You Want" sported loud, echoing drums and a sturdy guitar strum, but it also featured a heart-soaked melody reminiscent of a Shawn Colvin folk song.
Dido generated the night's biggest applause with her single "Here With Me" (RealAudio excerpt) a big, soaring pop song. She belted out the song with conviction, inspiring members of the audience to sing along.
Though Dido is from England, her band lives in New York, and she treated the audience like a new neighbor as the show unfolded. "I've spent more time here than I have at home," she said in a thick British accent. "So I've adopted New York. It's my new hometown."