There seems to be a constant stream of news about “rising stars” in the music industry and Natasha Woods – AKA DYLAN – has certainly been among them for a while now, remaining largely under the radar of a wider audience, even with a Latitude main stage appearance to her name. That all changed this week, when the 23-year-old performed single Nothing Lasts Forever to a star-studded room and further global online audience during the 2023 BAFTA Awards ceremony, elevating her celebrity beyond her already fiercely loyal and growing fanbase on both sides of the Atlantic.
And the slot was well deserved, as tonight’s second sold out show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire as part of DYLAN’s “The Greatest Things I’ll Never Learn” tour demonstrates. Signed by Island Records just last year after scoring support slots with the likes of Bastille, Tate McRae and Ed Sheeran; her The Greatest Things I’ll Never Learn “mixtape” is a debut LP in all but name, and perhaps a couple of tracks!
Appearing on stage to a pulsing heartbeat emanating from the PA and a giant heart-shaped light providing the stage backdrop and flashing in unison, to screams from an audience whose demographic is skewed largely towards younger folks of the female persuasion, DYLAN – accompanied by guitarist Rosie Botterill and drummer Connor Hopkins and wearing her own signature Fender Meteora with flame-emblazoned scratchplate – dives straight into singalong Mixtape favourite Lovestuck, the enthusiastic crowd strongly audible.
The Greatest Thing kicks off next with barely a breather, the guitar-driven pop banger has the West London crowd bouncing along nicely as Woods strides across the stage before the Suffolk native ditches her guitar, teasing “we’ve got some new songs, we’ve got some old songs” and breaking into slow-drive No Romeo EP cut Nineteen.
New song Every Heart But Mine is aired next, but you wouldn’t know it was a new one given how well known it is among the crowd. “Beautiful” Woods compliments her audience before announcing something “a bit more angry”, No Romeo cut Someone Else encouraging the crowd to vent their rage as they sing along “‘cause I love you and you love someone else”!
DYLAN @ Shepherd's Bush Empire
Woods takes time out to thank tonight’s support acts and introduce her band before diving into Mixtape rock ballad Blue, lush acoustic and electric guitars lifting the 2,000-strong Shepherd’s Bush crowd through her tale of an expectant reconciliation with a cheating ex.
“I’m going to take it down a notch” she says, continuing: “without the lows, you can’t have the highs” before introducing folksy Mixtape closer Home Is Where The Heart Is sharing “I wrote this when I was in a really dark place, I felt like I was losing a lot of people” before rounding out the thought by describing touring as her at her happiest.
Woods then tells the tale of audience member Andy Day who accidentally booked tickets to a previous London show, attending with his father-in-law and thinking it would in fact be a Bob Dylan gig, before dedicating a rendition of Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door to the Days.
Blisters rounds out the downbeat portion of the show before Woods dives headlong into Mixtape opener Girl Of Your Dreams, her audience chanting back the lyrics en masse as the temperature in the room begins to rise.
“It’s going to be a full-blown cardio workout until the end of the show, alright?” she asks, to cheers before introducing Treat Me Bad as “featuring my really shitty guitar solo”, the tune reminiscent of 1990s/2000s pop-rock/punk anthems a la Alanis, Avril et al.
Former One Direction man and current pop darling Harry Styles is the epitome of a perfect man in You’re Not Harry Styles before the night is closed out with a one-two punch of last year’s No Romeo followed by Mixtape banger Nothing Lasts Forever, DYLAN making the most of the Shepherd’s Bush Stage, moving from side to side and reaching down into her audience at the barrier to give those long-waiting fans a personal connection they won’t easily forget.
And that’s it, a rather brief sixty minute set has passed in a flash. The house lights are on and music plays at a low volume through the PA indicating that tonight’s heroine will not be coming back to play just one more song.
A pop star channeling guitar god Sophie Lloyd, DYLAN (who takes her stage name from what she would have been called had she been born a boy rather than Bob) shines as pop’s latest guitar hero, leaning on those that have carved the path before and building on it with an incredible collection of pop-rock anthems and a genuinely endearing live persona that has already gained her a loyal fanbase and will, no doubt, have her headlining in larger rooms than this before too long.
Live review and photography of DYLAN @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire by Kalpesh Patel on 21st February 2023.