Dan Mangan @ Vogue -- 02/12/19

A little bit of snow (and of course Vancouver's notorious inability to function in the snow) wasn't going to stop me from making my way downtown to a sold out Vogue Theatre, for Dan Mangan's big hometown show. Especially because I was equally excited to see the opener.

That being La Force, the latest musical project from Ariel Engle. She was joined only by Evan Tighe on drums, starting off with a cover of Angèle Arsenault's, "Je Suis Libre" before going through songs off her latest, self-titled album.
She showed off effortless charm as she chatted with the audience between each, showing off her unique cigar-box guitar, as well as some fun vamping or ad-libs at the end of a couple songs -- or in the case of "Upside Down Wolf", a short medley of "Pump Up The Jams" and "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?".
Other highlights of the all-too-short set included the dark & tense "TBT", "You Amaze Me" which showcased her enchanting vocals, and the hauntingly gorgeous "Lucky One", which finished off the set.

Aside from as a member of Broken Social Scene, the last time I saw Ariel Engle performing her own music was as AroarA (with her partner, The Apostle of Hustle himself Andrew Whiteman) in someone's backyard after a promoter unceremoniously cancelled their show last minute. And while that show was special on it's own merits, it was much more fitting to see her playing somewhere like the Vogue.

It wasn't long after that Dan Mangan hit the stage with his band, kicking things off with the first song off More or Less, "Lynchpin". The evening focused mostly on the new album with songs like heartbreaking "Fool For Waiting", the amped up energy of the infectious "Troubled Mind", and "Lay Low", my favourite off the new album and what would have been the best song to use as an excuse for missing the show.
He also gave just as much time to his breakout Nice, Nice, Very Nice, as "Can't Not" segued into "Road Regrets" and the sold out theatre sang along, as well as songs like "Pine for Cedars", showing his roots with lyrics filled with references to the city.
Part way through the set, the band took a break for Dan to perform a few songs solo on his acoustic guitar, fielding requests for the unreleased "There Is No Such Thing As Wasted Love" and playing the soul-crushingly sad "Basket", before being joined by Carleigh Aikins for a beautiful version of "Indie Queens Are Waiting".

Dan was giving it all to the hometown crowd, and the crowd was happy to reciprocate, offering Dan an extended ovation when he mentioned the troubles he had writing this album, nearly bringing him to tears. But also making him laugh and lose his place in "Jeopardy" when someone earnestly answered the lyric "What time is it?"
There were also many times during the night the audience joined in to sing, including three in a row to end off the night as the main set ended with another old favourite, a slowed down version of "Sold". Then Dan returned after mere moments with perhaps the greatest Canadian singalong, as every single person joined in with "Robots".
Finally, the night ended with every single person that had been on stage coming out, including a horn section, and Dan wading into the crowd. He stood atop a chair, with the house lights shut off, and a large light he called The Hammer illuminated him, while everyone on-stage & off provided backing vocals -- and even harmonies -- for "So Much For Everyone".

It's been a few years since I've seen Dan Mangan perform, and even more since the last "full band" show, and I think I forgot just how good he is. How he can command any room, even a sold out Vogue Theatre, and make it feel like an intimate living room show.

La Force setlsit
Je suis libre [Angèle Arsenault cover]
Can't Take
Upside Down Wolf
You Amaze Me
Lucky One

Dan Mangan setlist
Cold in the Summer
Can't Not
Road Regrets
Pine for Cedars
Lay Low
Which Is It
Race to the Bottom
Just Fear
There Is No Such Thing As Wasted Love
Indie Queens Are Waiting
Fool For Waiting
Troubled Mind
Peaks & Valleys
So Much For Everyone

#SingItFwd: A Special Juno Awards Edition @ Vogue Theatre -- 03/21/18


Two years ago, we thought we were seeing the last ever SingItFwd with a two-night extravaganza. The show was an annual event, running since 2011, to benefit the children of the St. James Music Academy, and was always a highlight of the year. But now it's back for a very special Juno edition, as the music awards touch down in Vancouver this weekend. 

This year's the show featured a host of local bands, many of which had played the event before, and some even nominated for a Juno this weekend. They all played a few songs each, sometimes stripped down, sometimes brand new stuff, and sometimes even joined by the kids from the St James Music Academy. 

Starting off the night was the indie pop of Peach Pit, and their song "Drop The Guillotine". They were a great way to kick off the show with energy, especially when lead singer Neil Smith had portions of the crowd screaming with nothing but a hair flip. 
(They also managed to make a few people feel old when they said they "grew up" on these SingItFwd shows, as well as some of the other bands performing that night). 

Louise Burns was out next, alone of stage for a couple stripped down songs. Her haunting voice rang through the theatre with a couple songs that may be appropriate for the weekend, "Strange Weather" and "Storms", as well as a brand new song. 

Khari Wendell McClelland followed, first with his own song, and then and after a cover of Bowie's "Five Years", we saw the first emergence of the kids from the SJMA, as they were out to sing choir on the song "Roll On". 

A group of St James kids on strings were out ahead of a couple of The Zolas. Zach said how happy he was to be there as they played a couple songs off their recent album, before giving a shout out to a band that wasn't there, launching into a cover of one of their songs, "Keep On Dancing" by We Are The City, one of my favourites of the night. 

Closing out the first half of the evening was Said the Whale, Tyler & Ben trading off lead vocals on, respectively, "Confidence" and "Lilac and Willow". They debuted a new song, called "Broken Man", which was Tyler admitted was being played for the second time ever (the first being downstairs in the green room 5 minutes beforehand). 

After a brief intermission, a St James Jazz band was up, followed by the amazingly powerful voice of Dawn Pemberton. Anyone that hadn't heard of her before was immediately won over with her cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and one of her own songs, "Deeper". She then invited the kids back onstage to sing Stevie Wonder's "Love In Need Of Love" with her. 

Leif Vollebekk was next, with perhaps the most emotion-stirring set of the night, his voice cutting through the near-silence of the venue as he poured his heart out with songs like "Vancouver Time". He was also joined by drummer Johnny Andrews for a song, joking that he was jealous since Johnny was drumming for at least half of all bands performing that night. 

Ryan Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin were out representing Mother Mother, first playing "Body of Years" then also teasing a brand new song. Ryan joked about being 'afraid' of kids, in his own loquacious way, before being joined for their final song by both Ashleigh Ball and the SJMA choir for "Simply Simple". 

And finally, after some great thank yous and videos from the stage for people who couldn't be there (including co-creator Ambrosia Humphrey) Hey Ocean! closed out the night. They teased their upcoming album The Hurt of Happiness with the title track, and the kids were out once more to sing with David Vertesi on a song written for Ambrosia, while it was . 

Usually, the shows will end with a big, giant singalong cover, with the kids and all other musicians up on stage, and this one was no different, as they paid their respects with a great cover of "Ahead by a Century" by The Hip, Vertesi and Ben the Whale taking lead vocals, the latter absolutely channelling Downie.

On the blog post for the very first edition of SingItFwd, I said something like: "It would be cliché to call it a magical night, but there is hardly any better description." and I feel like that's been apt every year, but especially this one. It was a nice to see them come back for one last dance, and nice to see the celebration of local music ahead of the Junos.