QUAYS news reporter Evangeline White was at Deaf Institute in Manchester last night (November 9) to review Dan Croll’s first gig after a year’s break. Here’s what she thought …

Set in the upstairs room of Manchester’s regular club spot Deaf Institute, it was a far cry from the usual drunken students dancing the night away to the favourite chart hits. Instead was a tranquil room packed full of teenagers, couples, friends, and even some of the older generation too. The small stage was surrounded by theatre style red curtains, bright blue lights, and a pretty wallpaper style backdrop filled with birds.

Supporting Dan Croll was London singer/songwriter Max Pope, at only 20-year- old, he has just released his first EP ‘Less than nothing’ and one of his first songs with the same title received positive swaying and nodding from the crowd. Speaking to Clash Magazine last month Pope explained the meaning behind the lyrics: “The song is written about achieving nothing with your time. It’s about those days when you really try to be productive but nothing sparks”, which many of us students can certainly relate too.

Max Pope

Pope who was born in Brighton played six of his own tracks to an audience of new fans, wearing a smart grass-green coloured checked shirt with the more unusual combination of baggy black jogger style trousers.  His musical style is very British indie with a cheery nature to it, his lyrics are clever yet meaningful with songs that are captivating and catchy. There was also a cover of Dusty Springfield’s ‘Spooky’ if that’s more your thing.

Before each song, whilst tuning his guitar,  Pope gave a brief insight into the meaning, one song which really stood out was ‘Who killed the king’ which is about a young man who was king in another country and now he is living in a bedsit in London, no longer living the life of a king.

For a support act Pope pulled in a generous crowd with many sure to keep an eye on this young and up and coming talent.

There’s no denying Dan Croll is a bit of a lady’s man, as he entered the stage, he was met by the bellowing of women revealing their undying love for him. One female shouted “Dan, marry us” much to the embarrassment of this shy 25-year-old. It is easy to see at first glance why Croll has such an appeal, standing on stage with his tambourine, his ear length hair and cute rounded glasses, wearing a casual but smart shirt and skinny jeans.

This was Croll’s and his four piece band; a drummer, a keyboardist, and two guitarists, first of three UK gigs to unveil their new music which has been in progress for the past year and it was worth the wait. With a set list of 14 songs both old and new there was something for everyone. It was apparent much of the audience have followed Croll since his LIPA days; it was to clear see why whilst at LIPA he was one of only eight students to be awarded a one to one with Sir Paul McCartney.

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Croll’s recently debuted ‘One of us’ is the first song to be taken off his, yet to be announced, second album and the song has already received praise from the likes of BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Wiley.

Speaking to Noisey music by Vice recently Croll explained some of the inspirations behind the song: “some of the more psych-pop noises and flourishes came from inspirations like Tame Impala and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s John Baker. The energy came from listening to a lot of bands like Foals or Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but the real balls of the song came from bands like Queen and Black Sabbath.” Even from the first few lines of the song you can get a real Queen feel to the song before it moves into a more upbeat tempo. Looking around, the room was filled with an audience of bobbing heads and tapping feet showing positive support already. What really stood out in this song was the excellent guitar solos in the middle, an opportunity for his instrumental talents to shine through.

Another popular song by Croll was ‘Tokyo’ which gave a resemblance to the 1975 with its upbeat indie pop vibe. After the concert several people were overheard giving the excellent performance recognition.  It wouldn’t be a surprise if this song is one to look out for in the future. As well as headlining a set of new songs Croll also performed some of his classics including ‘From Nowhere’, ‘Can you hear me’, and ‘Maway’ which included an acapella clap during the chorus with the audience participation being greatly appreciated in this small intimate gig.

After performing their final song the band left the stage to a well-deserved applause from the audience before being welcomed back on stage for an encore with enthusiastic fans shouting “We want more” before completing their final song of the evening from their first album Sweet Disarray;  ‘Home’.

With his further two sell out gigs in the coming days and the release of his mysterious second album it looks like Dan Croll is set for bigger and better things in the coming months moving into 2016.

By: Evangeline White
@EvangelineW94

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