Dan Croll // The Wardrobe, Leeds // 13.05.17
Dan Croll returned to the live circuit with a UK tour to tease his sophomore album, Emerging Adulthood, which hits stores on the 21st July. The album sees him expand on his unusual approach to pop, which takes the form of crunchy riffs, bold brass and his signature folksy style. This tour was a great opportunity to hear some innovative new material, as well as reminisce over some classics we know and love from his debut album, Sweet Disarray.
As we sauntered down the stairs into the dimly lit basement of The Wardrobe, we gazed at all the names adorning the stairway that have graced the stage in this intimate venue. As we emerged, we were greeted by the sultry sounds of support act, Peakes, who I really wish we had heard more of based on the small snippet we managed to catch. The second support act, I’m slightly reticent about mentioning; mainly due to the fact that we were much less enamoured with their generic, and at times sickening, style – sounding like something ripped straight from the Made in Chelsea soundtrack or a pre-pubescent Coldplay (and not in a good way). We headed back to the bar as we waited for the main event.
Croll and his band ambled onstage and launched straight into the recognisable brass stabs of the latest single to come from Emerging Adulthood, ‘Away From Today’. It was a triumphant return for him after having hidden away to expertly craft the new record. From the very beginning, Croll’s musicianship and onstage charisma was evident, as he breezed from song to song, genre to genre, whilst enthusiastically conversing with the adoring crowd. Next to come was a stand-out tune from Sweet Disarray, ‘Compliment Your Soul’, a stunningly serene number with charming percussive elements. It was refreshing to hear a preview of the second album, which from what we heard will be a wonderful progression from Sweet Disarray, encompassing some altogether heavier sounds.
A highlight was a rousing rendition of ‘Swim’, at first seeming sedate, with its electronic hums and breezy pads alongside Croll’s melancholic vocals, before it jumped into a haunting and epic chorus when Croll was joined by Stealing Sheeps’ Rebecca Hawley, who lends her vocals brilliantly to the track. It was a set that brilliantly reflected Croll’s personality, both as a musician and as a person. So it seemed fitting that he finished by playing perhaps his most widely known song, ‘Home’, as a parting gift, a quaint slice of enchanting folk magic that left everyone with a smile on their face as the lights turned on and everyone made their way out, the melody firmly etched into their brains. A lovely end to a wonderful evening of new and old.