The Juan MacLean Richard’s on Richards, Vancouver BC September 9

The Juan MacLean Richard’s on Richards, Vancouver BC September 9
In Vancouver, the Juan MacLean is quite the shadowy figure. In recent years, the DFA beatmaker has been a no-show on more than a few occasions here on the West coast, repeatedly leaving fans out in the cold and looking for refunds. Yet once again his name popped up on the concert calendar. And while this time no cancellation notice soon followed, it did seem few fans were willing to put their trust back in MacLean.

The former Six Finger Satellite leader was greeted by a near-empty house of about 40 punters — a poor turnout by almost anyone's standards. Thankfully, though, MacLean and co. did their best to make a night of it.

Backed by some added stage muscle — Holy Ghost!'s Nick Millhiser, !!!'s Jerry Fuchs and Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem — MacLean dished out a hefty dose of his forthcoming full-length, The Future Will Come. And by the sounds of things, he’s taking his electro-rock groove thang back to the '80s big time, trading gritty hard-hitting electronics for a slick, synth-heavy approach that repeatedly entered Human League territory. Or at least it did live.

This was all fine and good for the most part, with MacLean’s backing players adding a lot to the new glitzy, pop-oriented stance — especially Fuchs's intense live-kit pummeling and vocalist Whang, who slipped into the diva role brilliantly. But at times, the new material felt a bit rigid, never working into a proper groove like his earlier work so often did.

The exceptions were the funked-up versions of older tracks "Tito's Way" and "Give Me Every Little Thing," and above all the show’s jaw-dropping closer, "Happy House.” The epic 15-minute-plus rendering of this final track hit the spot so much, in fact, that any of the show’s previous shortcomings were quickly forgiven, making the whole night more than worth it in a single song.