Unassuming is a good word for Mikal Cronin. It covers a lot of the evening’s events at Hackney’s Moth Club, from his unheralded arrival on the tiny, glittering stage to his sporadic utterances between songs. There are no jokes, no rock star moves, no bursts of frontman ego. Instead, Cronin lets his songs do the legwork.
On record, Cronin is given to tasteful flourishes: a swell of strings here, a rolling piano there, even employing something as seemingly incongruous as rototoms on his most recent record Seeker.
As a power trio, Cronin and his band tear away those flourishes like stabilisers off a BMX and start doing wheelies and tricks up and down the cul de sac. There’s a direct muscularity to the performance and that lets Cronin’s ear for melody shine through.
He might have the pedigree of a garage rocker (see: his previous incarnation as Ty Segall’s sideman) and a penchant for fuzzed out solos that echo Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, but Cronin is a power popper and classic rocker at heart. That’s never more evident on Show Me, a toe-tapper straight out of the Tom Petty songbook, or Weight, with its huge chorus and loud-quiet-loud dynamic.
A single song encore and the lights come up, despite the defiant calls for more. Cronin exits with a grin and a sincere-but-not-overly-so thank you and takes up his station behind the merch desk. Unassuming to the end but capable of such giddy brilliance.
Mikal Cronin plays Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 28 February and Hope & Ruin in Brighton on 29 February. Get tickets from our friends at Ticketweb.