“They like us” says Dan Croll mid-set, smiling at keyboardist Jacob Berry. It’s a hell of an understatement given the deity-like reception that he’s been awarded all night. Even before his silhouette takes to the stage, the Liverpool singer-songwriter is met with the sort of cheer reserved usually for hometown heroes and yet, as Croll mentions at several points during the show, this is in fact his first venture to Portsmouth.
By the time the dancing guitar hook of ‘Compliment Your Soul’ is heard, the noise grows to a rapturous height. From there, the only time it lets up comes in the short breaks of silence in between songs, which impresses Croll. “I think you’re without a doubt the quietest crowd in between songs we’ve had this tour” he remarks which of course prompts exclamations of “sexy beast” and other such romantic wooing.
During the songs however, things are quite the opposite as the small, crowded room backs Croll’s every word. Given that his debut, Sweet Disarray, only saw release in March of this year, it was clear to see the he was both flabbergasted and touched to see how familiar his music was with those in the room, as the man was wearing an infectious grin throughout. This showing of genuine joy was echoed by his backing band also who looked to be having the times of their lives.
Croll comes across as a natural frontman onstage – not in the cocky, show-off sense, but more in the way that he looks perfectly at ease conversing with his audience. He talks through the events of his day in great detail before asking for opinions on the greater Thai curry – red or green? While his effortless rapport with the crowd is indeed pleasing to watch, the show is still very much in the music itself. The dance-pop of ‘In/Out’ gets feet moving while the roaring outro to the bare groove of ‘Can You Hear Me’ acts as perhaps the night’s biggest spectacle. Fun levels peak when support band and good friends Panama Wedding join Croll and his band onstage for ‘From Nowhere’ wherein half of them pick up instruments to join in while others prefer to stand back and soak up the atmosphere, in awe of the party before them.
Croll thanks the crowd for the umpteenth time during ‘Home’ but it’s obvious that no one will go back to theirs satisfied without an encore. The band obliges within mere seconds of leaving the stage with an airing of the crescendoing ‘Marion’ – the first song Croll wrote – and finally the dazzling ‘Eyes Together’ which highlights the band’s attention to layered harmonies one last time. Portsmouth liked him, they liked him indeed.