by Madeleine Cummings and Laura Stanley
Here at Grayowl Point, we love Dan Mangan. How could we not? With his gruff vocals, smart lyrics, and witty personality, Dan is quickly becoming a dominate name in the Canadian music industry. With a Polaris Music Prize nomination and recent three-month-tour across the US and Europe under his belt, Dan has finally come back home to his loyal Canadian audience. But does this audience differ from province to province? What makes an ideal Dan Mangan venue? How do his performances compare? We hope to answer some of these questions by presenting a double review of two shows – Montreal and Toronto – from Dan’s Peculiar Travel Suggestions Tour.
Montreal: The Crackling and The Harbourcoats (aka: Bryan Webb of the Constantines)
Mangan’s back-up band: The Crackling: Kenton Loewen (drums), Gord Grdina (guitar), and John Walsh (double bass).
Overall, MTL felt a connection with The Crackling, but not so much with Bryan Webb, who barely looked up at the crowd as he played.
Toronto: The Crackling and The Harbourcoats
Dan Mangan made a special appearance on drums for one of The Crackling’s songs.
Mangan’s back-up band: Also The Crackling.
Overall, both The Crackling and The Harbourcoats were great and complimented Dan’s music really well. Kenton Lowewen, lead singer for The Crackling, provided funny stage banter and showed off his great voice. The Harbourcoats (Bryan Webb) impressed the audience. Although shy at first, both his voice and lyrics were very strong.
Montreal: La Sala Rossa. A medium-sized room on the second floor of a historic Montreal building.
Toronto: Trinity St. Paul’s United Church. A beautiful historical church in downtown Toronto provided exceptional sound for the show. Dan told us that when his Mom was studying to be a minister, she did her residency at this church.
Montreal: Excited. It would have taken a lot more than rain to keep Mangan fans at home on October 25th. It’s truly Dan’s charm that makes him Canada’s current Indie King. Despite his incredible success over the past year and half, Mangan grinned humbly on the Sala Rossa stage as if he couldn’t believe the crowd was there to see him. But indeed, in the eyes of each audience member was an adoration similar to that found in preteen Beliebers. People really, really, really like Dan Mangan, and for good reason.
Toronto: Anxious. The venue provided a wonderful space for a concert and just because it was in a church, it did not cause the audience to be any less enthusiastic.
The concert in one word
Montreal: “Wow.” One audience member blurted this out a split-second after Dan and his band finished playing “Sold” as the opener.
Montreal: All of Dan’s upbeat songs sound tremendously improved. There is real chemistry between Dan and The Crackling, and their song-to-song transitions are seamless. When Dan breaks a string, he finishes the song comfortably, then proceeds to play all of “Road Regrets” before Grdina whisks the instrument away, passing him his own guitar as if it were a relay baton.
Toronto: Dan, and his band are exceptional performers. Music wise, the show was very put together and Dan seemed very relaxed on stage. Even though “Robots” might be getting a little old, Dan performed a lot of new songs making his fans very excited for a new album.
Montreal: John Walsh’s falsetto accompaniment in “The Indie Queens Are Waiting.” Cheeky.
Toronto: When Dan came out into the audience for “Robots” and the whole audience stood up, sang, and clapped, “Robots need love too. They want to be loved by you.”
Montreal: Compared to many of Mangan’s new up-tempo songs, the popular “Robots” seemed tired and worn out. The fun-factor of the sing-a-long was revived however during the encore when Dan and the band came down from the stage to play an acoustic version of “So Much For Everyone.”
Toronto: Fans of Dan’s older tunes were disappointed that he didn’t play more songs off his first album, “Postcards and Daydreaming.”
Why the Montreal show was better than Toronto’s
This was Dan’s first time playing in Canada after his European and US tour. It was easy to see the excitement on his face. Montreal’s crowd was vocal – one fan shouted “Nice guns!” teasingly as Dan took off his hoodie – but had no shortage of adoration for the musician and his music. When Dan asked for if the audience would like to request anything, the first response was “any one of your songs!”
Why the Toronto show was better than Montreal’s
The atmosphere. With an exceptional venue and an adoring crowd, Dan’s show was nearly flawless. By including new songs, an Elliott Smith cover of “I’m Gonna Love You Anyhow”, and his priceless stage banter, Dan won the hearts of everybody.