Let’s put things up front: Dan Mangan puts on one of the best live shows out there. Everyone, Vancouverite or otherwise, is urged to see him at the next possible opportunity. Which might be a bit difficult, since he managed to sell out two shows at the Vogue weeks in advance, and did the same back in May. Dan Mangan, for those unaware, is a Vancouver based indie-folk artist, which doesn’t sound particularly impressive, but Mangan has such stage presence and charisma that I doubt anybody could have walked away from Saturdays show without a smile, or a tear. He gives a damn about the music, and the performance, and the audience.
Opening up the show was The Crackling, followed by Burning Hell, with the members of The Crackling also playing as Mangan’s backing band later in the show. The Crackling played folk with excellent acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and cello work, and got the audience in a charged up mood. Their frontman Kenton Loewen was charismatic and talkative, and set the mood nicely for Burning Hell up next.
With Mathias Kom hoisting a ukelele, and backed by cello and a synth/guitar/glockenspiel/other-assorted-gadgetry, Burning Hell joked and played catchy, witty, and plain funny songs about love, death, and life. Their work is energetic, funny, and plain fun, and are highly recommended. The audience loved every minute of it; Burning Hell could easily have been the headliner from the volume of the crowd.
Dan Mangan finally took the stage with a revolving lineup including the members of the Crackling as well as a six-piece brass and string section. Mangan and his band could rock out with “Road Regrets”, and bring tears to eyes with “Fair Verona”. Veda Hille joined Mangan for a beautiful version of “The Indie Queens are Waiting”, and the last song “Robots” had the entire Vogue singing along. The mark of a true performer though, is that even the breaks between songs were enjoyable, with banter between the band, stories and jokes earning smiles on every face in the theatre.
If you haven’t heard anything by Dan Mangan yet, here’s his video for “Robots”. If it doesn’t melt your heart, you might not have one to begin with: