Published May 09, 2010It's been a year since Dan Mangan released the single "Robots" and made the move from local secret to certified everyman. Having sold out Vancouver's spacious Vogue Theatre almost instantly, that transition is officially complete, as the show had the atmosphere of a victory lap for the now-beloved folk singer.
Backed by nine musicians, including three horn players, a cellist and two violinists, Mangan's set drew heavily on last year's Nice, Nice, Very Nice. He got the set off to an upbeat start with the stomping "Sold," fans clapping along during its quirky polka-like coda. Soon after, the thundering "Road Regrets" evoked screams of "I love you, Dan," to which he promptly responded, "I'm quite fond of you too." This banter was typical of the performance, as he even cracked mid-song jokes during sombre ballads like "The Indie Queens Are Waiting" and "Tina's Glorious Comeback."
The celebratory mood was best captured when Vancouver-based author Ivan Coyote came on stage to share an autobiographical love story during the gentle "Pine for Cedars." It went on for so long that the band stopped and restarted several times, but the combination of her witty monologue with Mangan's musical accompaniment was so perfect that it could have kept on going and no one would have minded.
While the audience remained seated for most of the show, fans suddenly flooded to the front of the stage to dance during the caterwauling "Some People." With the energy at its highest point of the night, Mangan finally delivered the knockout "Robots." With horns wailing and the audience singing along to the fuzzy-hearted refrain, "Robots need love too/They want to be loved by you," it was a transcendent moment. If Vancouver has selected Dan Mangan as its champion singer-songwriter, then we're in good hands.