Saturday 29th March
The Kazimier, Liverpool
It must be interesting being a musical nomad like Dan Croll. Born and raised around Stoke-on-Trent, it was thanks to his attendance at Liverpool’s Institute of Performing Arts - known worldwide as one of the UK’s most prestigious arts schools with a raft of talent on its books - and a portfolio of hype-inducing local gigs, that the Scouse city has proudly claimed him as one of their own; something he seems to willingly reciprocate. Indeed, he’s ingrained so much in to the local music scene, he is deemed a frontrunner for the upcoming 2014 Getintothis award, which celebrates Liverpool music.
So on the last Saturday before he took to America for a mammoth headline tour, Croll ends his UK stint with a pseudo homecoming show. Tickets for the show sell out well in advance, which shows both the anticipation from the city and his rising profile in general.
Support comes in the shape of We The Wild. A London-based three piece that come with a bank of synths, sequencers and all-round doodads, the short set is filled with music to get excited about, with well-written tunes and a great live presence. It’s a shame really that the audience that has arrived early feels more like a well-attended school assembly, with the majority sitting around The Kazimier cross-legged and chatting between numbers. With the right audience, the set this band produce should be an absolute cracker.
When Dan Croll and his band hit the stage, that homecoming vibe is clearly evident on both sides of the stage. On the one hand, Croll mentions in between the first few tracks that this was the one gig of the tour he is genuinely nervous about. On the flip side, the extremely sold out crowd do their best to alleviate these nerves by welcoming him back to his Mersey home with gusto. One Scouse shout of “Go ‘ed Dan lad” seems to melt any of his fears away and allows the show to continue on with the utmost of party atmospheres.
And what a party it was, with delightfully genre-spanning pop tracks like Wanna Know and In/Out getting the crowd bopping, followed by the whole venue almost universally swaying like drunks at a wedding to Compliment Your Soul. Dan really does know how to craft a fine pop song, and he and his band have clearly perfected them in a live environment, with deep, almost-tribal harmonies flittering over tight instrumentation.
Both the atmosphere and the band amped up for the inevitable encore, the bonafide track-of-the-summer From Nowhere and title track ballad Sweet Disarray bringing proceedings to a close in the finest possible way. Sweet Disarray marks a stark change to most of the set, but shows that they can slow things down and still keep a swirly Saturday crowd in their palms.
A local promoter advertised the show as the last chance to catch Croll before the inevitable explosion and subsequent arena shows. While he and his band may have some way to go until their headline show at The O2, a spate of festivals this summer - hopefully drenched in sunshine as these songs need to be - should see Dan Croll well on his way.
Words by Hugh Roberts
Image courtesy of MixTapeLive