Wolverhampton musician Dan Whitehouse's latest outing at the Birmingham Conservatoire somehow had more of a feeling of a gathering of family and friends rather than a legitimate gig but that said Dan is a fine, maturing and determined singer/songwriter and is always worth listening to.With a full complement of musicians at his disposal Dan started the set with You Can't Give Me Any More one of the soft ballads he does so well which was bolstered by Tom Bounford on violin and accentuated nicely by June Mori on the grand piano.
Dan then gave his audience a flavour of what's to come with Come Back, which will feature on his new album due out next year. This was a more up tempo offering with a strong underbeat and was ably underpinned by the guitar playing of his fellow musician and co-producer Mike Clarke.
This was followed by perhaps one of Dan's strongest tracks the Fire of Lust which he admits is his ode to testosterone. It has a real foot-tapping cowboy western beat with Mike's precise banjo picking adding to the good 'ol country feel. Mori's piano accompaniment seemed out of place and unnecessary but it did get the impressive finale the song deserves which was more than helped along by the violin.
Dan went back to the softer ballad which suits his mild tones blending smoothly with the sliding sound of the pedal steel.
Three Bodies, with it's almost sinister fairground-style undertone was inspired by a visit to Greece and is a great example of Dan's clever lyrics such as "yes she could use a little more upfront, but she's still saving up for that" and "yes she was safer when she was younger, not vulnerable to attack". The song again was nicely accentuated by Mori's piano.
Another example of his wordplay was shown in Pretty Soon, inspired by his work with the disabled where he uses music as part of the therapy. The song has something of a Pink Floyd feel about it and Dan kept it to a simple voice almost an a Capella rendition.
Do You Still Wanna Be Mine had more than a shade of Donovan about it and gave Dan the best chance to show the range of his voice. This was followed in a similar vein with They Care For You which would not have been out of place on a Simon & Garfunkel album.
Dan showed more of his versatility with an almost poetic rant with My Heart Doesn't Age which was given a strong backbeat from the double bass
He returned to his ballads with If I Grow Old which starts with just Dan's voice and guitar but builds up to a much heavier and rockier beat a bit like a train heading in from the distance.
Dan tried to goad the audience into joining in on the refrain of When We Were Sleeping with limited success but the moved on to try out another of the songs he will be releasing on his next album, Maybe I Was Born To Run Too, which was so new it was the first time he had performed it in public and he did need reminding of the lyrics at the beginning.
Dan is a workhorse, there is no two ways about it, and he is both trying to increase his musical profile and work on his stage presence and act, and there is no doubt he has the talent. However, he didn't seem to make the most of this opportunity having a full ensemble and the performance at times did seem a little timid. But he was called back for an encore twice and finished the set with a request from the appreciative audience Raw State.