With the way his fans you were cheering, you would expect Dan Mangan to be some kind of messiah (forgive me for including this joke, as the show took place in Trinity St. Paul’s Church).
Now I’ve probably lost track of the number of times Dan Mangan has been mentioned on the blog. But when I attended his show on Thursday night I finally understood what makes him so irresistible to anyone who watches him perform live. There’s something indescribable about him- he’s so modest he could be someone from the audience, but at the same time he has a completely commanding stage presence.
But anyways, now to describe the evening. The show began at roughly 7:30 PM and right on time. The opening act was The Crackling, whose three members happen to all be part of the backing band for Mangan himself.
The band’s front man, Kenton Loewen, was chatty (but entertaining!) between songs, which tended to be long and very epic. The songs were at times very soft but could suddenly become loud and proud.
Harbourcoats (who I found out is just one guy) went on next. While he never officially introduced himself as such, we all knew who he was. He simply played an acoustic guitar and delivered some rather powerful songs that I know surprised a majority of people.
Mangan went on at 9 p..m. to absolutely thunderous applause. The church’s stage seemed to just fit Mangan and his band’s 9 people in total- including guitar, upright bass, violin and trumpet.
Mangan started off the set with a very rousing “Sold” which became even more energetic than I remembered it . When he moved onto “You Silly Git” he showed one aspect of what makes him so great. While in the middle of singing he accidentally made his microphone totter back and forth. He laughed and then continued on singing.
He sang a number of songs from Nice, Nice, Very Nice including “Road Regrets” and “Tina’s Glorious Comeback.” A highlight was definitely when he performed “The Indie Queen Are Waiting.” Because Mangan obviously could not have Veda Hille with him on his tour, two bandmates substituted Hille’s vocals with semi-hilarious results. So hilarious in fact that Mangan laughed during the song and told the audience that the only way he can get through the song is by not looking at them.
Besides material from his WCMA-winning album, he also played at least (from my recollection) four new songs, one which he called “Post-War Blues” and another that was composed mostly of questions.
The most crazy-awesome moment was during “Some People” when Mangan and the rest of his band did a series of insane solos that got so loud that I couldn’t distinguish between the cheers of the audience and the sound of the instruments.
The set ended with “Robots,” and this was truly the most spectacular number. At the end of the song with the well-known refrain “Robots need love too/They want to be loved by you,” Mangan got the entire audience to sing along with him. What always astounds me is how on-key the audience can sing it.
But this wasn’t the end of the magic of this song. Mangan eventually jumped off stage and into the audience. He got the entire audience to stand up, clapping and singing. At that moment I felt a joy that I cannot begin to explain.
During some stories he told of his touring of Europe and North America, Mangan mentioned how he played in a lot of dingy bars to audiences of 15, but this changed dramatically upon returning to Canada. Perhaps very soon the rest of the world will finally catch up and realize why Canada loves the incomparable Dan Mangan.
Coming up soon: Another review of the same show from a different contributor, and a review of Dan Mangan’s Montreal show