Dan Mangan The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON March 23

Dan ManganThe Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON March 23
Secret guests don't stay secret for very long at Canadian Music Week, so by the time Vancouver troubadour Dan Mangan hit the stage to close out the Horseshoe at 2 a.m., the place was packed. Wrapping up the Arts & Crafts label showcase, Mangan delivered a set that made it very near impossible to dislike him. Joined by a full band, and an occasional trumpeter, Mangan's musicianship really shone through on the material from his latest record Oh Fortune. Set opener "About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All" erupted from thick, scuzzy noise into the wonderfully crafted folk pop tune that appears on the album, though simpler-sounding favourites from a while back like "The Indie Queens Are Waiting" were just as mesmerizing. One of the evening's highlights was definitely Mangan's cover of Elliott Smith's "Waltz #2," which had the enamoured crowd hanging on to every word. It was refreshing to see the bearded songster pull out the mass sing-along "Robots" midway through the set -- complete with a stage dive and crowd surf -- opting to end with "Tina's Glorious Comeback." That is, until he stood on a chair in the middle of the venue, turning the audience into a backing choir for "So Much for Everyone." A dynamic and obviously talented live performer, Mangan not only showed off his musical chops, but managed uphold his reputation as one of the nicest guys in the business, making his late-night set an absolute pleasure to stay up for.