LIVERPOOL MUSIC WEEK: Dan Croll @ Arts Club
It was a very last-minute affair when I was invited to Arts Club’s Loft to see Liverpool-based musician Dan Croll on the third night of Liverpool Music Week. Knowing only what my friends had told me about how much they love him, I went into the gig a total Dan Croll newbie, and came out with a new fave musician.
Opening for Dan was LIPA alumni Jalen N’Gonda and his dreamy brand of 60s-infused soul vibes. Borrowing from a whole range of influences from James Brown to The Last Shadow Puppets, N’Gonda‘s blend of classic Motown sounds and a voice that sounds like being wrapped up in a big hug was EXACTLY what I needed on a Sunday evening mid-semester when I was drowning in deadlines and needed a break. I’d actually retract my previous statement and say that I found myself two new fave musicians that night, because I could listen to N’Gonda‘s music again and again and again.
There’s something truly special about seeing a band or artist from Liverpool in their hometown. Scousers just love to support one of their own, which meant that the minute Dan stepped onto the stage and kicked off his set with single Compliment Your Soul, the whole room was word-perfect. Incorporating more styles and genres than you can even imagine, from the chilled vibes of Away From Today, to the fuzzy guitars of One Of Us, to the piano funk of Can You Hear Me, it’s not difficult to see the appeal of Dan Croll- it seems like the man can do anything.
It doesn’t hurt that Croll is so lovely, either- dressed in the sort of ‘nice’ pink shirt your mum might make you wear paired with scruffy vintage trainers that had definitely seen better days, he appeared to the masses like the most normal bloke on Earth. From making jokes about the long trek he’d had to make for the gig (it’s rumoured he lives around Bold Street, so it probably took him all of 10 minutes to get there) to interacting with his friends in the crowd, this was a man who, if it wasn’t for his unbelievable talent, could’ve been made a pop star by accident. Rather than a gig by someone famous, witnessing Dan Croll live was like going to the gig of a friend- even though I’d had little knowledge of Dan before, there was something comforting and familiar about tunes like January and Be Alone that made me wonder where his music had been my whole life.
“This one’s called Bad Boy,” Dan announced, before launching into the happiest, poppiest, loveliest tune I’d heard in ages. Sometimes you’re introduced to songs that just stick with you, for whatever reason, and Bad Boy’s frantic drum beat and persistent bassline combined with Dan’s dreamy, floaty vocals have barely left my brain since the first time I heard them. I could probably say that I’ve listened to Bad Boy so many times since hearing it live that I know every part of it off by heart, and I’m honestly not bored of it yet.
It turned out I was more familiar with Dan’s tunes than I might’ve originally thought, as he closed his set with the ethereal sounds of From Nowhere and beautiful acoustic number Home, two singles that I had no idea belonged to him. Sandwiched between them was Tokyo, the latest single from 2017 album Emerging Adulthood, a synth-heavy anthem which simply served to add to the smorgasbord of genres that Dan Croll can turn his hand to, and do so brilliantly.
As he left the stage to thunderous applause, thanking everyone for coming out to see him, I found myself not wanting Dan Croll to leave. For me, it’s a rarity to go to a gig so intimate and friendly, where the music is the only thing that matters, but Dan’s Liverpool Music Week set gave me exactly that, and I gained some brand new fave songs along the way. The gig helped to open Liverpool Music Week in the best possible way, and I haven’t stopped talking about Dan since.