Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, Hayden, & Astral Swans}

So like I said earlier, I hit up Darke Hall for Dan Mangan's show on Saturday night and completely loved it. I took subpar pictures and immaculate mental notes, and thought I would share it all here. Because that's what I do.

First opener: Astral Swans.

To be honest, I didn't know Astral Swans was opening when I first heard about this show. I didn't know who Astral Swans was. His set was a pretty low-fi experience as a whole, just a dude with a voice and an electric guitar - which isn't a negative, but I feel like if I'm going to go to a show to see just a dude with a voice and an electric guitar, he had really better make my day. So right up front I was apprehensive at best. 

And to make matters even harder on me, he's one of these people who wear their toques perched up on the very top of their heads just above their ears. Do people who do this just wish they had taller heads? Or have they never been to Saskatchewan in the dead of winter and don't entirely understand the point of toques? The point of toques is so that you don't have to wear earmuffs. But if you wear your toque way up on top of your head like that, you still have to wear earmuffs. So I don't know, Astral. I don't know. 

However, about three songs in he did a cover of Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (Willie Nelson) which has always been one of my favourite, favourite, favourite songs, and it did the original major justice (high praise) so I quickly forgave him all of his quirks and just tried to picture him sans toque for the rest of the performance. (Which I enjoyed.)

Second opener: Hayden

Oh good grief, Hayden. Hay-den. I enjoyed this so much. I mentioned my favourite song from their set in this post here, and have since listened to it fifty more times - and if I could've had that option at the show too, I probably would've taken it. Yes, please, just go on and play that last one again. Over and over, until we all fall asleep to it. Sobbing.

But I'm glad they played other songs too, not just the one over and over, because it was all so vast and varied musically, and all so good. I always liked the songs of Hayden's that I've heard on the radio and bought off iTunes, but now I like them substantially more. Which usually happens in the case of really good live shows. If this show had sucked, I would probably have deleted all of his music from my library. Make or break, these things are.

And then Dan Mangan and his men emerged from the fog, and I think that was the closest I've ever come to seeing aliens come out of a UFO. But really wonderful aliens though. With great musical dexterity. 

I'd seen Dan Mangan a few years back at the Folk Fest, and that was when I first fell in love with his music, so I was pretty excited that the set included some of my old favourites from Nice, Nice, Very Nice and Oh Fortune as well as stuff off of his 2015 release, Club Meds.

They're one of those bands that are just so fun to watch and listen to, and they played both of the songs that I really needed them to (Starts With Them, Ends With Us and Basket, look them up, please). If they ever come to your city, or a city by your city, or a city by a city that has an airport that flies to and from your city, you need to go see them.

Also: the venue this show was at is amazing. If you're a local, here's some info about it and the fundraising happening right now to restore it.