It’s approximately five minutes past nine o clock on 24 April 2018, and a packed out Whelan’s upstairs is eagerly awaiting the headline act of the sold out show of Cork singer/songwriter, Dan Elliott. Then, without any real fanfare, the ex-teacher jogs onto the stage and with a cheeky grin to the crowd launches into his first song, the endlessly catchy Things Weren’t Great But Baby They Weren’t That Bad…
For the next hour and a bit, Elliott would hold the sold out crowd in the palm of his hand as he rifled through a selection of songs from his discography with an enthusiasm and craft that could not help but pull the crowd along with him, not that they needed any coaxing.
Across the night, there was a multitude signs that we were in the presence of a man who is completely at home with the nuances of live music. A few weeks previous to this show, Elliott had won the prestigious Joe.ie Le Crunch Apple of my Eye competition with one of the judges on that particular night, BARQ, saying that a sure sign that an artist is working hard is how many people show up to sing their songs back at them.
If that’s the case, Elliott works damn hard, as anyone who knows him knows is the case. Every song was greeted by a chorus of accompanying singers in the crowd who screamed every word along with the man on stage. The result was an incredible atmosphere of support and engagement that is yet another testament to the work done by Elliott.
Across the night Elliott effortlessly moved between acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and piano, which helped to keep the show from becoming stale or repetitive while helping to further display the versatility of the artist. There was also a lovely moment mid way through when Aaron Rowe, who was initially meant to be the support on the night before he had to pull out due to illness, joined Elliott on stage for a performance of the Sam Cooke classic, A Change Is Gonna Come. The receptiveness of the crowd across the night even allowed for moments such as the excellent Trust Yourself being performed off mic in the centre of the room, while being lit by phone torchlight.
Elliott concluded the show with my favourite song by the performer, the fantastic Maybe We. What followed was one of the most enjoyable live performances of a song that I have ever experienced, complete with accompanying Frisbee.
It would also be remiss to write a post about this show without making reference to support act on the night, Graham Mitchell. Mitchell had big shoes to fill having to step in for Rowe at last minute, but we were treated to an incredibly accomplished performance from another outstanding young talent on the Irish music scene.
It is clear from this showing that there is a serious sense of excitement starting to develop around Dan Elliott. There is a warmth to how the Cork man interacts with the crowd, and the care and time that has gone into the songwriting is obvious for anyone who takes the time to listen to the music on show. This whole night really only felt like the beginning of something bigger, much bigger. Get on board.