Tonight I had the very great pleasure of seeing one of Vancouver’s favourite indie-sons, Dan Mangan performing live at Notes in Newtown.
Dan Mangan was originally bought to my attention not so long ago by my guru on all things indie Canadiana, Mr Ryan MacLean (I have other people on the ground there for matters of sights, style and spirituality). He was also the one who, from the other side of the planet, tipped me off about the gig just a hop, skip and jump away from me here in Sydney. I promptly snapped up two tickets, not knowing at the time who the other lucky ticket holder would be.
From the minute I first heard Dan Mangan’s melancholic, folk stylings, I knew he was a keeper in my collection. I listened to his albums compulsively to the point of being almost sick of them yet unable to stop. It wasn’t long until I put him up on the same pedestal as our very own Josh Pyke where I trust they’re getting along well exchanging heart rending lyrics about life, love and society in general.
The date of the show fast approached and I was still holding a spare ticket. One thing you’ll never hear me complain about is a lack of friends but a gig buddy is a different creature – they have to be the right fit for the show and vice versa. Luckily on this occasion, my choice was clear – fellow Vancouverphile and malcontent, Sandy.
I hadn’t been to Notes before – it’s one of several Sydney venues that offer a dinner and show for a combined price. I’d opted for just the show leaving Sandy and I free to make the impossible choice of where to eat along that infamous stretch of Enmore Road between Newtown Station and Enmore itself. Our indecision was laughable in the face of endless possibilities – Thai, Greek, Italian, African, Mexican, Sri Lankan, Japanese, Vietnamese, Portuguese not to mention all the trendy little fine/casual dining spots that keep popping up. Perhaps one day, I’ll make it my mission to visit each of these places.
Across the road, Death Cab for Cutie were playing at The Enmore so we were in competition for a seat at a restaurant with their much bigger audience. We settled on a fairly standard Thai place near the venue and got stuck into our meal and conversation with such relish that we almost lost track of the time. Whenever I’m with Sandy, time tends to do a disappearing trick but I swear those in earshot of us get as much out of it as we do.
We dashed to Notes in time to catch the support band, Leader Cheetah, mid-set. We scoured the show-only ticket holder area for a good position, managed to grab a leaning spot and one chair but while I was at the bar, I spotted two spare seats at the end of one of the dinner tables. I pounced on them and signalled for Sandy to come over. We were set!
Local act, Leader Cheeter, finished up their ethereal acoustic set and before long, Dan Mangan took the stage. The guy next to me commented to his friends that he thought he looked like Morgan Spurlock but I thought he was rocking more of a Seth Rogen vibe. Neither image was particularly conducive to Dan’s music so I tried to push both from my mind and enjoy the powerfully enlivened, yet faithful renditions of his songs primarily from his new album, Oh Fortune, which this tour is in aid of but also including favourites from Nice, Nice, Very Nice and Postcards and Daydreaming. Being a small venue with an intimate crowd, there was an easy interaction between songs and at one point he even called Gabby Huber from Dead Letter Chorus to the stage to join him for a simply gorgeous version of Indie Queens are Waiting.
He had us all joining in for Robots with a chorus of “Robots need love too, they want to be loved by you” and for his finale, had us all on our feet oohing and aahing along to one of his early numbers So much for everyone and I think sounding quite lovely for a ramshackle group of Newtown gig-goers. You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YdrC6Sx GaA
Nice, nice, very nice indeed!