Dan Croll - Ruby Lounge Manchester 19/3/14
The boy from Liverpool via Stafford has literally come from nowhere to becoming one of the hottest properties around. Moving to Liverpool at a young age to study at LIPA led to a chance meeting with one Paul McCartney and said single was at the top of blog chart Hype Machine for 3 weeks and Croll received more airplay on radio and even got added on the prestigious ‘ a new band a day’. After cutting his teeth, supporting Bastille and Imagine Dragons, Dan was now ready to be thrust into the limelight.
After wowing the crowds at SxSW in Austin last year, Croll is now doing a whistle-stop tour of the UK along with support band Racing Glaciers.
Ruby Lounge is crammed tonight with what seems like tweens all eager to catch a glimpse of a new pop obsession. It’s almost like a boyband has come to town so it definitely bodes for an interesting evening.
Local band ‘ Racing Glaciers’ are up first with their keyboard led sort of Coldplay lite brand of emotive pop which seems primed for larger arenas. This works well for the young crowd as it seems they can’t get enough of their frat boy looks but still just remains inoffensive music for the rest of the crowd.
Dan Croll and band enter the stage with ‘Hello My Baby’ which sounds like a lost Lady Black Mambazo song. Its rhythm sets the tone for the evening. Launching into the kaleidoscopic pop of ‘Thinkin bout chu’ with its cooing backing vocals sends the girls at the front wild having the same effect. It soon becomes clear why he has a young appeal with his loved up lyrics.
The falsetto of ‘wanna know’ brings the first sing along from the crowd. The dancey In/Out gets the crowd shuffling their feet. It’s crazy that he has just released his debut and every song sounds so familiar. ‘Compliment your soul’ is the next major sing along with its lolloping melody, brass parps and close harmonies - it still sounds as fresh as ever.
A mention for his ace band here with Dave Kelly’s rhythmic drumming ably accompanied by the tight riffs of Jethro, John and Jacob who somehow becomes easy fodder for the crowd. Occasionally the music veers close to Vampire Weekend and there is an obvious Paul Simon influence. However Dan has the likeability and variety in his arsenal with none of the complexities of Vampire Weekend which with his complete focus on the melody and songwriting is a winning combination. There is a variety of styles on show here especially with the switch from soul to pop to afrobeat but it’s all perfectly arranged so it doesn't seem to make a difference to the crowd.
With a mention of his Mum and his creased shirt you can tell that despite all this newfound fame Dan is still grounded. This is so rare in an artist nowadays and all to his credit and he genuinely looks astounded at his popularity.
Dan ends his set with the gorgeous of home an earlier EP which showed so much promise and showcased his songwriting talent. It’s the perfect way to finish a faultless set of course notwithstanding the electronic folk of ‘From Nowhere’’ and the acoustic pop sweetness of ‘Sweet Disarray’ as a closer.
We might be a few months away from summer but with this special brand of sunshine pop that Dan is bringing to the Ruby tonight, it’s almost like August is here already.