Mangan’s following grows
Despite the fact it was a Tuesday in the middle of mid-term season, British Columbia native and indie folk-rocker Dan Mangan attracted an enthusiastic crowd to Starlight Lounge in Uptown Waterloo.
Playing songs from both his Polaris nominated album Nice, Nice, Very Nice and his most recent effort Oh Fortune, Mangan delivered a passionate, energetic and memorable performance.
Since signing to Arts and Crafts, the record label behind such acts as indie veterans Broken Social Scene, Mangan has been noticing a growing fan presence.
“When I made the last record, nobody had a clue who I was and there was very little anticipation for it,” Mangan told The Cord prior to the show, expressing a sense of surrealism. “It was a strange thing to make a [new] record that people would actually hear.”
Opening the evening were The Crackling, which included Mangan on drums, and maritime-based singer Molly Rankin.
Mangan began his set with a strong build-up to the first track of his new record, “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All.”
Even though Mangan is considered a solo artist, the band that supported him added just the right flare without losing the personal character of his song writing.
This collaboration with other artists had a large impact in the writing of Oh Fortune. “I got to a point where I was feeling very boxed in, and this is what you sound like, you’re a folky Canadian guy with a beard,” said Mangan.
Discussing the process of making the new record, Mangan added, “It was quite different, it was made a lot slower, which is really great, that’s how I want to get my records done.”
“I just felt rushed before,” he admitted.
Mangan stated that the new record “poses a lot of questions” and, while it may appear to have a darker tone lyrically, he hopes that people don’t get lost in that darkness when listening to the record.
“I hope people give it a bit more time. It’s a more patient record,” he explained. “I don’t think it’s a sad record necessarily, it’s just raw.”
Along with playing various songs off his new record, Mangan played many crowd favourites such as “Sold,” “Fair Verona” and “Basket.” During his performance of “Basket” the band temporarily left and Mangan returned to his roots by performing acoustically, providing what was arguably the highlight of the night.
Before launching into the song, Mangan told the audience his inspiration for the song: dealing with implications of growing old.
“I want to spend it reading good books and listening to good music. To keep my life relevant,” Mangan told the audience, in regards to how he wishes to spend his life.
Towards the end of his set, Mangan performed a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s, “Airplane Over the Sea,” a song he states is “close to his heart.” He closed his set with the popular track “Robots,” joining the crowd to sing the final segment of the song.
Though exhausted by a demanding tour schedule in recent years, Mangan ultimately still enjoys the life he is living and is looking forward to returning home at the end of the tour. “The touring life was an exhausting one, but it’s also very magically, you get to go places and meet interesting people. So it’s fun, it keeps thing fresh,” he said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publishing date.