by Joanna Orland
The plan was to catch Dan Black’s gig at Punk on a Thursday night. My email server was down so I was relying on his MySpace info to lead me to the right place at the right time. I’m fairly sure I read doors at 8pm, Dan Black on at 8:30pm, GIG! We got there at 8:30pm and Punk was not even open yet! We asked the man sweeping the patio area what was going on, he didn’t have a clue. So he let us come in so we could find out. We asked a barman what was going on, he didn’t have a clue but had a really bad attitude. After scolding him for being a lazy rude arse, we asked the other barman what was going on. He nearly gave us heart attacks by saying there was no gig that night, but then started laughing and informed us that he thought Dan Black would indeed be playing later on in the evening… but to check with the DJ lady to get more info. So onto our 4th person to tap for info, we asked the very kind and informative DJ a) If Dan Black was REALLY playing there that night [no posters, signs, info, nothing] b) and if so, what time was he on stage?
The answer we got was YES! He was playing! On stage at 10pm! Ok. Now that that was cleared up, we thought we’d go for a drink to ready ourselves for the spectacle. To continue with the confusion theme of the evening, I ordered an “Ass Eye” for Gilldo to drink rather than an “Asahi”. Good times.
10pm rolls around, we head back to the venue to check out Dan. Now a bit of background info on Dan to explain why we were desperately trying to see him live in the flesh. Dan Black has got some serious hype attached to him. He’s been written up in all the publications including Time Out as THE one to watch for 2009. His latest and greatest single SYMPHONIES grabbed my attention on the first listen, as a catchy, dreamy, beautiful resonating tune that I cannot get enough of. The accompanying video confused me a bit as Dan’s appearance reminded me of a cross between Ben Stiller, Perry Farrell and Bruno (yes, THAT Bruno). Either way, I was intrigued. I sought more of Dan out on Spotify and discovered his previous 2 singles Alone and Yours. TUNEAGE!! I was hooked.
Dan Black eventually got on stage closer to 11pm rather than 10… but at least he did take the stage after all that confusion. He really surprised me when he arrived wearing a gold bling chain, makeup that gave him the appearance of having just got punched in the eye rather than stylish war paint, and most confusingly, Hammer pants (yes, MC Hammer style parachute pants really are back in fashion – Marko, just say no!). He had some really ‘interesting’ dance moves verging slightly on the ridiculous side, ok vocals, lots of backing track and reminded me of a cross between Mika and Calvin Harris. Bizarre. Not at all what I was expecting. I personally prefer his recordings to his live set, and would consider Dan Black as a RECORDING ARTIST rather than live musician. Mostly do to the heavy use of backing track.
Speaking of backing… his backing band were great. Most notably, the bassist / multi-instrumentalist who looked like The Zohan (Don’t Mess With him) and at one point had a mini Casio keyboard taped to his crotch for easy access. He was definitely the most visually entertaining aspect of the show, and was way more solid than the physically flailing blinged up Dan.
Anyway, Dan Black is playing about 3 sets at Glasto this year and I want to and will see him again. The evening was just too overly strange to judge his performance fairly, but I do know that I love his 3 tunes Symphonies, Alone and Yours. And I do think he’s visually intriguing, could ditch the weird spastic dance moves…. but I do think he’s very talented and one to watch. I need more. His debut album is out in July. We shall see if he delivers on his hyped promise. POTENTIAL!