My initial introduction to Dan Croll was one of those "listen to this fabulous new artist" emails that seem to arrive every day in my inbox. The track that was being promoted in 2012 was From Nowhere and it did prompt me to investigate further. Wikipedia said: "Daniel Francis "Dan" Croll (born 18 July 1990) is a British singer-songwriter born in Newcastle-under-Lyme. He moved to Liverpool when he was 18 to attend the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). While at LIPA, he won the national Songwriter of the Year award and was one of eight students picked to have a one-to-one with LIPA founder Sir Paul McCartney."
The song that really piqued my interest later was Home, released in Dec 2013, which is a beautifully written, slightly tongue in cheek, song about Dan's feelings about family and home, and how good they make him feel.
This gig in the Liquid Rooms was part of Croll’s first headline tour in support of his debut album, Sweet Disarray released earlier this year.
The band came on followed by the man himself, looking every part the slightly gauche, naive frontman. They wasted no time in launching into ‘Compliment Your Soul’ to the roaring response of the audience. This was followed by ‘Thinkin Aboutchu’ and ‘In/Out’, exploring the diverse range of genres and abilities that Croll demonstrates throughout Sweet Disarray. The translation of the album to the stage is as impressive as Croll’s repertoire itself – the electronic beats, the alluring guitar hooks, the catchy choruses; all these sound better and more dynamic when experienced live.
His appearance belies his confidence on stage however and there is no pretension or shyness in his stage persona, as he engages frequently and cheerfully with his band and audience. He went into great detail on the delicacies they had sampled in Pizza Express at the top of Cockburn Street just before the gig - Calzones all round apparently.
The band have worked with the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo recently in Durban, on Hello My Baby and Ever At Your Side, and the quality of the harmonies during those songs was testimony to that collaboration. Beautiful stuff.
They polished off the first set with a stonking version of Home, complete with serious audience singalong and some wild dancing in the front few rows of the crowd. The band departed while the audience called for more, more.
When they did return, it was to perform a stripped back and very mellow encore set, starting off with his first ever single Marion, followed by Eyes Together and the title track from the new LP.
As I left the Liquid Room I reflected on the show. Well put together set, good songs well performed. I'm sure the lad from Staffordshire will do well. I even had the opportunity to chat briefly to Peter Kirk of Panama Wedding. All in all a great evening!
--- Setlist ---
Compliment Your Soul
Thinkin Aboutchu (sic)
Can You Hear Me
Must Be Leaving
Hello My Baby
Ever At Your Side
Always Like This
-- Encore: --
New York based quartet Panama Wedding opened proceedings with a rousing set of their lively synth-guitar-pop, delivering a joyfully upbeat and infectious sound.
--- Setlist ---
(Unknown) ("Sit Outside")
(Unknown) ("Don't Give Up")
All Of The People