Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dan Mangan – Melkweg, 3 December, 2012 (Old room)

Occasionally it is nice to catch a performer before they are big, or should I say famous. They are usually still playing with huge amounts of passion and they also usually really want to entertain. After all it is the living they have chosen to do, no matter what happens next.

I first heard about Dan was when I was in my favorite bar in Amsterdam (De Zotte), and I happened to overhear a Canadian guy recommend to one of the bar staff that they should check out this singer/song writer call Dan Mangan. Not normally one for eavesdropping, but always one for checking out new music I wrote down his name and thought I would check him out next time he passed through Amsterdam. In the lead up to the show I had listened to one of Dan’s albums and I found myself enjoying it more and more with every listen. So by the time the concert came around I didn’t question whether I would not enjoy it, but rather I how much I would enjoy it?

So on the night of the show he appeared to be quite a quiet but charismatic lad, who can clearly write a pretty good tune or two. And the feel of the live show was a little bit Bon Iver and a little bit Mumford and sons, so it is fair to say it was not totally foreign to me.

The nights gig was really good. The venue wasn’t super packed, but busy enough. There were a couple of times when the punters at the bar were a little bit louder than I would have liked but this is a live music show, you have to take the good with the bad. What Dan was able to do was also play songs that could captivate the entire crowd long enough for them to stop talking to their friend next to them. Several times I noticed not one person was speaking and that you could hear the plastic beer cups hit the floor and bounce along after someone had dropped them.

It is these moments (not the beer cup bouncing peruse) that I think you can feel a real connection to the band or performer and it probably elevates them higher in my list of performances that I want to see again. I had this exact same moment the first time I watch Bon Iver play and I did feel a few similarities with Dan’s performance.

While I particularly enjoyed his live version of Robots, I have to say I thought most of the songs were really good and I didn’t feel any distance from the performance because I wasn’t totally familiar with all the songs – this is always a great sign at a gig.

After an hour and a bit of punching out all their songs that the true fans had come to see, the end was nigh. Dan then proceeded to step down off the stage into the crowd carrying only his microphone and a chair and placed it right in the middle of the room. From there he got up on the chair and a single spot light shined down on him and he told the crowd that whilst he liked watching you tube music videos too, what he didn’t like was watching cameras whilst he is singing this song. Most of the punters respectfully put away the song.

It was a fantastic way to end the show. It showed his engagement with the crowd, as well as his desire to entertain.

He (and his entire band) is well worth a look if you get a chance and who knows possibly this time next year he may have even developed into the next Bon Iver. He certainly has all the chance in the world to do so based on the live performance I have just witnessed.


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