Max and I played our final show last night, closing the Ten Steps tour at The Stoller Hall in Manchester – a beautiful and modern concert hall, designed by Stephenson Studio with acoustics by Arup. They say it has been engineered to provide a ‘unique immersive experience’ – and they’re right!

We were greeted warmly by Bo, a warm and friendly team member at the venue, and guided through soundcheck with care by a patient and skilled sound engineer (and vocalist), Forest.

My favourite listening spot in the hall was the mezzanine and I took a seat up there to enjoy the innovative approach to the fiddle from our opener Sean Morrison. Currently a masters student at the Royal Northern, Sean is a fluent, fearless player, and delivered an expressive performance – I’m pleased to have met him and am keen to stay in touch.

We played one set last night, one shot and it felt as if we were gliding through the show. The journey’s not over, but the finish line of this chapter has appeared on the horizon. Stay steady my friend, stay present.

An extremely wise person once told me ‘Dan, you have time – that feeling of running out of time, that causes you to rush, maybe to stumble – it’s all an illusion of your own choosing’.

What I take from this is that perspective is so important. We can choose to breathe, and feel the present moment. We have this time right now, we have this breath, and then the next…

Or you prefer a football metaphor: you can only play the team in front of you. And I’m proud to say this is what max and I did. Turning our attention to individual notes, phrases, and the human stories behind the songs. How would they have felt going through what they did?

Max’s improv sounds sublime in The Carole Nash Hall, leaving the audience mesmerised and in a dreamlike meditative state. I’m quite lost as to how to follow this! So play it safe and go for a song about beer. Everyone likes beer, and no matter how many times I play ‘Free Beer’ (from the Voices From The Cones album) I still find it hard to believe it was actually company policy to ply the glass workers with free alcohol whilst they sweated away in the furnace!

We follow this with two songs on the piano – yet another Steinway grand for me to enjoy, and I feel spoilt. The instrument talks back so much, a sentient being that has a resonance and character that makes me want to add it to my mental list of people to thank at the end of the gig. But ultimately, even such warm thoughts as this are irrelevant and I cast this aside and focus on the young apprentices venturing nervously out to the canal bank in search of their wand/stick for glass making. Some of them must’ve felt so bewildered at this instruction!

I loved playing ‘Why Don’t We Dance’, and what Max adds to this song feels so perfect. It has risen up as a real musical highlight of this tour. We’ll be recording this in our session together at Real World Studios tomorrow.

This doesn’t feel like the end for Max and I, but it does feel like we reached a summit and now we have an opportunity to reflect. I think maybe all of this spilled out into tonight’s improvised song, and it’s my pleasure to share the lyric with you here (and the audio in full on my Patreon).

Thank you for reading this tour diary, that’s all from me for a little while, gotta pack my bags ahead of a 14.5 hour flight to Tokyo next weekend. Stay in touch, I’ll continue the diary over on Patreon but the focus will shift more to my day to day stuff and songwriting than touring life.

Tread lightly – you have time.

Love Dan x

photo: Roger Westwood


Two lines of flight
two birds what heights
you swoop i dive

I enjoyed us in parallel
me on the mezzanine
two lines never touching
two lanes we speak

I’m watching what you’re watching
I’m by your side
You hear my breath
We have time

Don’t turn your head
This moment heaven sent
I won’t carry you
No you don’t need me to

See you through the glass
Yes i’m coming back

Two lines of flight
two birds what heights
you swoop i dive

Two lines of flight
two birds great heights
you swoop I dive