Review: Dan Mangan – The Castle, Manchester

At a packed out Castle Hotel in Manchester, Dan Mangan took to the stage on the evening of his 29th birthday. A chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the Mangan faithful shortly followed Dan’s appearance to the stage, much to the gratitude of the Canadian folk-rock songwriter. Once the crowd had settled in their sweltering but beautifully intimate settings, the show began with a type of ‘Jaws Theme/Jungle sounds medley’, in which Dan and his band slowly set the mood before breaking into the opening song from his recently-released Oh, Fortune album, About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All. This was followed by the title track Oh, Fortune and the deep thinking Leaves, Trees, Forest, before being  brought back to his 2009 debut album Nice, Nice, Very Nice with the upbeat Sold. A delivery of tracks from Oh, Fortune then slowed down the tempo of the show, with the ‘growing old ballad’ Basket and the mellow Starts with Them, Ends with Us, following the lonesome If I Am Dead, the gripping Post War Blues and the haunting How Darwinian. The venue then erupted as the band began the signature 2009 anthem Robots, with Dan orchestrating the crowd in the brilliantly catchy outro of ‘Robots they need love too, they want to be loved by you.’ Rows of Houses and Regarding Death And Dying completed the Oh, Fortune tracks, allowing Dan, the band and a member of tonight’s fantastic support band Zeus, to successfully experiment with the penultimate song, a cover of Elliott Smith’s Waltz#2 from his highly regarded XO album. The show ended with So Much For Everyone, a song taken from Dan’s first album Postcards And Daydreaming, a performance in which Dan again orchestrated the crowd but this time from an elevated position, allowing him to look down at the engrossed faces as the venue’s harmonies rang out alongside his echoing voice. A truly unique end to a thoroughly entertaining show. Chris Murphy