I have been incredibly fortunate with Dan Mangan shows. Aside from the fact that I've only seen him twice, the first time was his fantastic CD release party at the Cultch, which included him & his band, of course, but also an orchestral section and Shane Koyczan. Something, he confessed, that would probably never happen again. This time, he played a CBC Radio 3 sponsored show, going out live (and probably online in the near future) in Studio 1 at the CBC headquarters. The room couldn't have held more than a hundred or so people, so it was a very intimate setting.
First up, though, was Fanshaw. I saw her at the Mint Records X-Mas Show, and really liked the set, especially her voice. Simultaneously soft & powerful, Olivia Fetherstonhaugh (formerly of The Choir Practice) has a voice that commands attention even at a whisper. The three piece -- Oliva on guitar accompanied by bass & drums -- alternated between upbeat and down tempo songs, and even alternated members, with some songs being just Olivia, and one adding a french horn.
The set ended with a duet between Olivia and her drummer, who took over guitar duties, covering "Love Hurts". While they may not get points for originality (how many times has that song been covered?) it was a pretty damn good cover of the song, with their voices blending together really well. I've been idly looking for the album, Dark Eyes, which came out about a month ago, but I think after last night I am going to have to start seriously looking for it.
Between sets, Lisa Christiansen briefly interviewed both Olivia & Dan, and also gave out some prizes with trivia.
At 8 sharp, Dan Mangan took the stage with his backing musicians... a trio of horns & a trio of strings. He started off with "Sold" before going into "Fair Verona", which was already one of my favourite songs, but absolutely amazing with the horns & strings. And considering he mentioned they only had two rehearsal sessions together, it was pretty great. There was also the usual humour thrown in, cracking jokes between songs. I once likened Mangan's stage presence to that of Joel Plaskett, not only with the effortless stage banter and humour, but also using that to create intimacy in the set. Even if it wasn't already a small room, Mangan is able to make it seem like he's just a pal, playing in your living room. The highlight of the set would have to be "Basket", which just bled raw emotion. It was incredible and managed to give me chills; and I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few tears rolling down cheeks by the end of it. He "ended" the too-short-set with "Robots", with of course everyone singing and clapping along. There was a vaguely awkward moment as he wandered off, then back on for the requisite encore, asking the members of Fanshaw to lead the crowd in the background ooo-oooh's for "So Much For Everyone"
With just the orchestral section and Dan Mangan, it was an incredibly rich and beautiful sounding show, which was improved upon immensely with the intimacy of the room. I think I might just be slightly disappointed next time I see him live, since I am pretty sure shows like this will never be repeated. Luckily, it'll be up soon enough on R3 for repeated listening.
Sold, Fair Verona, The Indie Queens Are Waiting, Road Regrets, Et Les Mots Croisés, Pine For Cedars, Tina's Glorious Comeback, Basket, Robots. (encore) So Much For Everyone.
The other thing I noticed about this show was how awesome the crowd was. Maybe it is because they all knew it was going out live, but everyone was incredibly respectful while both Fanshaw and Mangan were playing. Don't get me wrong, between songs and everything, people went nuts -- Dan got a standing ovation at the end -- but while they were actually playing/singing, the crowd was silent. It's been a while since I've been to a show and someone wasn't incessantly chatting the whole time... I kind of wish all shows had crowds like this.