Dan Mangan's return to Brighton on Wednesday night was almost three years to the day since he last set foot on a stage in the town. In fact, last time I saw the Canadian musician, he was standing on a stool in the middle of a crowd at The Hope performing an impassioned encore just hours before his birthday. This time round, just hours after the celebrations of his 32nd birthday and a last minute venue change, he performed to a small but enthusiastic crowd at Bleach. Fourth album 'Club Meds', which was released earlier this year, is a rather sombre affair and I must admit a little trepidation before arriving at the venue. Mangan's previous appearance in Brighton had been such an uplifting evening, that I was worried the new material would darken the mood of the performance. I needn't have worried though.
If the Juno winning songwriter can do one thing, it's to connect with an audience. This is especially true in a town he's played in many times over the years, indeed at one point he referenced his early solo years, playing in Brighton coffee shops with just an acoustic guitar. All five band members barely fitted on the small stage, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a much larger room with the sheer amount of noise they produced. An early outing for 'Offred' and 'Vessel' demonstrated the power of Mangan's recent material, which seemed to translate to a live setting well. These versions are perhaps preferable to the studio incarnations, solely for the fact that you see his band pushing the boundaries of what they're capable of.
However it's the songs from 'Club Meds' which also seemed to test the attention span of the audience the most. One particular sample heavy extended instrumental introduction led to an outbreak of conversation in parts of the room, which seemed to disrupt the flow of the show. For the most part, though, it was these songs that saw the assembled musicians crack the biggest smiles as they jammed out impressive instrumental set pieces. 'Club Meds' is the first time that Mangan has formalised his band under the moniker Blacksmith and this show almost underlined that as each musician was given a chance to shine. For example, bassist John Walsh was placed prominently front and centre on stage. Kenton Loewen was the first to take the spotlight with his stunning two-minute drum solo which slowly built into the opening bars of an exhilarating one-two punch of 'Post-War Blues' and 'Road Regrets' mid set. Gordon Grdina's guitar solo during 'Rows Of Houses' was also a real stand-out moment.
Continue reading: Dan Mangan - Bleach, Brighton - April 29th 2015 Live Review
Hot on the heels of his fourth album release 'Club Meds', Dan Mangan has set out on tour - hitting both Europe and North America - under his new band moniker Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. The album release comes after a brief hiatus, while Dan took some time out to enjoy the company of his wife and child.
We caught up with the man himself to discuss juggling family life with his career, the best things about festivals and just what makes 'Club Meds' stand out.
Contactmusic: Hi Dan! How are you enjoying being back in the UK?
Dan Mangan: We had our first day off of the entire tour (14 gigs in a row) in Glasgow and we ate curry, walked through windy brisk streets and drank whisky. It's working out.
Continue reading: Dan Mangan - Interview April 2015
Fresh from winning two Juno awards, Dan Mangan arrived in Brighton for the first of his UK shows to support his third record Oh Fortune. Mangan's appeal is growing quickly outside of his native Canada, and for the small but sold out audience on the south coast, it was a chance to experience an intimate evening with a man who has much larger stages to play on the horizon.
With a crowd suitably warmed up by the hometown talents of cellist Abi Wade, and the prog rock of Toronto based Zeus (including a surreal cover of Genesis staple 'That's All'), Mangan unassumingly appeared on the small stage. Dressed in a army style medic's shirt, complete with a red cross on the back, you could be forgiven for thinking that Mangan had arrived to dish out some musical first aid. In many ways over the next hour he did, although I suspect his dress code was also a sly nod to recent single 'Post War Blues'.
Starting his pre-birthday show with a jazzy and slow burning instrumental piece was also a brave move. Thematically it fitted with much of the material from the most recent record, but it also demonstrated to the assembled crowd of no more than 250 just how big his band could sound in such a small space. The set that followed was heavily indebted to tracks from Oh Fortune, showcasing the talents of his one man brass section, although earlier material sat comfortably alongside these tracks..
Continue reading: Dan Mangan, The Hope, Brighton (27th April 2012) Live Review
Dan Mangan will be releasing new single 'Rows of Houses' taken from his critically-acclaimed album 'Oh Fortune' on March 19th 2012, through City Slang. After rounding off 2011 with a performance at End of the Road's Christmas Shindig at Cargo in London, Mangan will be returning to the UK in April 2012 for an 8-date tour, kicking off in Brighton on April 27th. The full list of his UK tour dates can be found below.
Continue: Dan Mangan - Rows Of Houses
Dan Mangan's accomplished third album Oh Fortune is strangely captivating. The Canadian singer songwriter has created something special that shows real progression musically without sounding laboured. That's certainly a difficult feat for an artist in his mid twenties who's still finding his feet.
Continue reading: Dan Mangan, Oh Fortune Album Review