Good news travels fast, and word soon spread that Canadian folk hero Dan Mangan was back in town. Past performances at the Brudenell have earned him cult status as he wins crowds over with his easy charm and a penchant for a big sing-along. Like eager kids waiting for reading time we gather round to listen to the mellow North Atlantic burr of Jason Collett. Telling tales of a bohemian childhood in Canadian backwater towns, Jason’s captivating storytelling more than compensates for his laidback style. His story about navigating cops and high school principal while high as a kite is a comedy act in its own right. Smatterings of Bon Iver and Ryan Adams whisper through ‘Blue Sky’ as we ease into the evening.
Accompanied by a band of talented jazz musicians, Dan Mangan is far from a one man show, spinning out topsy-turvy psychedelic riffs that add new twists on his troubadour classics. The old favourites are ever present and the stomping hillbilly beats of ‘Sold’ finally drags the languid crowd to its feet. Capable of coaxing out the shyest wallflower, Dan joins the crowd in impromptu sing-alongs and random debates, but it’s songs like ‘Basket’ that keep them coming back for more. Tinged with sadness and wry good humour, this song about growing old gracefully is as sob-inducing as the opening scenes of UP.
Debuting new song ‘Jeopardy’ it seems Dan finally has a song to rival musical soulmate, Willy Mason, its stark simplicity dispersing the chatter for pin-dropping silence. Drawing in closer for one last sing along ‘Et Les Mot Croises’ (And the Crossword), we are lifted into soaring harmonies that would be as at home round blazing campfires as glittering halls. Leaving hearts full and faces glowing, Dan Mangan has ensured that his legend will be spread around these parts for a long time to come.