Live: Dan Mangan

Dan Mangan and his newest band member, Fluffy

Playing Sheffield for only the second time in his career, Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan’s performance, with support from a sensuous string and brass section, had all the coolness of a homecoming gig.

From the exposition, Mangan wasted no time in working the crowd. In fact one of his greatest talents is his ability to react to his audience, building them up and bringing them down (if not stopping them altogether) entirely at his will. In opening song, ‘Sold’, a rollicking toast to materialism, he trilled, crooned and screamed to the delight of his spectators.

His lyrics span resolute to haunting, exemplified best by a troubling rendition of ‘Some People’: “So paint your pickets white and beat your wife just don’t forget to shut the blinds”, pointed squarely at middle-class suburbia, Mangan can be just as poignant as he can charming.

On more than one occasion however Mangan had a tendency to play as if he were solo again. The cacophony which ‘Some People’ descended into sounded as if only Mangan himself had planned it.

Yet this was a night where confidence was rewarded, marching into the crowd Mangan declared to the socialites at the bar, “All I deserve is five minutes of your time.”

From atop the bar he announced ‘Robots’ and his band moved to accompany him in the centre of the venue. The effect of unplugging for the final song was emphatic and the room chanted the concluding chorus to his most popular single to date.

As the band attempted to pack away yells of “Fabulous” reverberated around the room and were eventually answered by Mangan, who, claiming he had forgotten the lyrics to the song taken from his first album, merely had to play while his dedicated following sang, “We’re all fabulous, sarcastic bastards,” to him.

Though the set was by no means perfect, Mangan’s lyrical honesty, irreverent stage presence and ultimately his experience will always be welcome in a scene otherwise saturated by ‘up-and-coming’ male singer-songwriters.

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