Dan Mangan CD Release at The Cultch

Photos by Christine McAvoy

With weeks of buzz & anticipation, promotion galore, the number one spot on the singer-songwriter album category on iTunes Canada, and two sold out shows – that left friends and family pleading for tickets – it’s safe to say Vancouver (and much of the rest of Canada) caught Dan Mangan Fever.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice, Dan’s second album, was released on August 11th to outstanding reviews and near-unanimous praise (save for “emperorhasnoclothes” in response to the Georgia Straight’s article).

To celebrate the album’s release, his first full-length album in two years, Mangan played back-to-back nights at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre.; the tickets for which became so in-demand, over a dozen buying/selling ads appeared on craigslist.

The August 28th night began with fans lined up outside The Cultch, counting down the time until the box office opened (“FIVE MORE MINUTES!”). Once the doors opened, the masses poured into the lobby, vying for spots in line to purchase the CD and t-shirts. Eventually, everyone made their way into the theater while The O’Darling’s sweet sounds spilled through the speakers, providing a soundtrack to finding seats as excitement and anticipation continued to grow.

Aidan Knight kicked off the night, playing his first two songs solo. The O’Darling’s joined him on stage for the rest of the set, both backing him up, and playing a few of their own tunes. Not to be outdone on his big night, the man of the hour also came out to sing along.

Always the wordsmith, Dan spoke the best about Aidan’s music, saying something to the extent of: “I’ve always believed that Aidan swam to the deepest, furthest parts of the ocean, pulled out a chest of songs and started playing them…”
(Go listen to “Jasper” on his myspace to hear why).

Dan ManganAfter a thunderous applause for Knight, whom most definitely gained more than a few new fans that night, a short intermission was held. Backstage, Dan, whose voice and lyrics have been described as whiskey-soaked/burnished, was offered some of that very drink to celebrate, turned it down saying he was “a sober kind of musician”.

Flashing lobby lights sent fans downing their drinks and scrambling for seats. The cheers were not held back when Mangan finally stepped foot on that stage.

His first two songs (“Road Regrets” and “Sold”) with his (borrowed) band: Aaron Joyce (guitar), John Walsh (upright bass) and Kenton Loewen (drums) before welcoming the strings and horns out for “You Silly Git”.

“Pine for Cedars” was next and followed by “Journal of a Narcoleptic” that included various members of the 10-piece.

Mangan then performed intimate versions of “The Indie Queens Are Waiting” and “Et Les Mots Croises” solo. The latter, he stated, was written for his girlfriend, and in romantic like fashion, he stopped mid-way to explain the line: “I’ve slowly turned the kind of blue, that keeps your jeans dry,” saying, “When you’re blue, you don’t go outside, so you don’t get rained on.”

In the intro to “Tina’s Glorious Comeback”, Dan spoke of the changes Vancouver has gone through since he was younger, giving the example of the cold, metal bus shelters and how the city is still great, but not the same (or “we’re not us anymore”).

In an unadvertised, but greatly welcomed, special appearance, Shane Koyczan came out for “Fair Verona” and delivered some poetic lines over Dan’s melody… moving several audience members to tears.

With the entire 10-piece band well rested, they stepped back on stage to assist Dan with “Some People”. “Basket”, which was backed by the string section, elicited more tears/sniffles from the eclectic spectators. Mangan ended the show with fan-favourite “Robots”, where like every Dan-show I’ve been to, the audience belted out the song’s refrain “Robots need love too. They want to be loved by you!” with gusto, and provided him with a standing ovation.

But it wasn’t over just yet; Dan came out for the encore, bringing Aidan and The O’Darling back out and called fellow musicians Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft (Said The Whale), Ashleigh Ball (Hey Ocean!) and Hannah Georgas out of the crowd to sing “So Much For Everyone”.

The finale of the evening was a new tune — a love song called “Daffodil” that sent giggles through the audience during the lines like “Daffodil, my petunia…”

Another standing ovation later, the crowd flooded the lobby and had the singer surrounded with shouts of congrats and requests for pictures and autographs.

In short, the night was nothing but well-deserved love and celebration for Dan and the immense amount of hard work he put into his new album and the show.

Very nice, Dan.