Liverpudlian Dan Croll recalled the first time he performed in DC — more than three years ago in the basement of Sixth & I Historic Synagogue.
“That was an interesting experience,” said Dan, laidback with an affable grin. “We’re happy to be back.”
And back this time around consisted of being on the stage of the 9:30 Club, opening for Norway folk sensation Aurora, with a pretty full house on Monday.
Dan kicked off the show with “Do You Have To,” apparently a brand new song and then moved into “Compliment Your Soul” from his debut album, Sweet Disarray, released in 2014 by Deram Records. The sweet, lovely folk song sets the tone for 30 minutes of Dan’s music as he sits at a keyboard, flanked by another keyboardist and a guitarist. Dan enjoyed a good rapport with his band, which carried itself throughout an idyllically pleasant concert.
With the terrific presence of synthesizers and his easygoing manner, Dan presented a unique but complementary voice to Aurora, making him a great choice to accompany her on this North American tour. But this of course also sets up Dan to come back around again next year with the release of his second full-length album. That album will feature his new single “Swim,” which he performed as the fourth of his eight songs Monday. To my ears, it marks a slight shift in Dan’s sound, as he deploys his crisp, crooning voice with an alt-R&B vibe.
In concert, Dan and his companions were rather earnest performers, which hides a devilish sense of humor that he depicts in his music videos. See what I mean by watching the droll video for “From Nowhere,” also performed Monday night, as Dan has fun with his scenes:
Dan and his band closed their set with the well-regarded “Home,” a song from Sweet Disarray that he wrote to describe the joy of returning home after some time away — in his case as a previously poor college student with an interest in exploring the world.
All in all, Dan is a bright, playful entertainer with a very cool presence. You’ll enjoy seeing him open for Aurora on this tour, and you’ll look forward to his return as a headliner in 2017.
Here are pictures of Dan Croll performing at the 9:30 Club on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.