Personality and Song Make for a Royal Event

photo by Jonathan Taggart

Friday night, I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre all set to watch Vancouver’s own, two-time JUNO award winning artist, Dan Mangan. The venue itself was a testament to how far Mangan has made it in his musical career and undoubtedly he was aware that such a prestigious setting was a milestone in his career.

Mangan’s stage presence was what I enjoyed most about the concert. The ability to connect with his audience not only through music, but by telling stories and jokes, was something that really resonated with me. In my opinion, artists don’t do this often enough, which is strange because establishing this kind of connection can mean the difference between a good concert and an incredible one. At one point, Mangan was alone on stage and spoke intimately about his first paid gig at Vancouver’s Media Club, coincidentally right below the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, where he was paid a mere twenty five dollars to play. This humble chat gave the impression that Mangan was not only proud to be performing in his hometown, but that he was extremely grateful for his fans and the opportunities Vancouver has given him as a performer.

The first couple songs were followed by the sound of applause and cheering, or as Mangan called it, “a mix between enthusiastic people and an alley of dying cats”; this acknowledgement sparked laughter which then gave the audience the go-ahead to loosen up. Although the Queen Elizabeth Theatre has assigned seating, Mangan’s “open invitation for participation” before playing “Robots”, one of his most popular songs, triggered a rush of enthusiastic spectators to assemble at the front of the stage. This unexpected act was followed by Mangan climbing up onto a podium where he, spot lit, clapped his tambourine to the beat of the song while noticeably taking in the energy and moment before him.

The encouraged audience participation was what made this concert so memorable. When Mangan took a moment to respond to fans yelling out song suggestions he replied with a laugh: “I just don’t know some of these songs you’re saying,” and after playing another crowd favourite, “The Indie Queens are Waiting”, he asked if he should sing “Journal of a Narcoleptic” or “Fair Verona” for his next song. This “what would you rather” questioning is a testament to just how attentive Mangan is with his audience; moments like these help me understand his continued success as an artist.

The lavish theatre and its decor paired with Mangan’s cozy music and voice, as well as the hot chocolate I sipped on before the show, made for a perfect autumn night. The show was strikingly sincere and brought together a diverse crowd, ranging from children and their parents to teenagers and twenty-somethings, all for the same purpose. Mangan, who ended the concert by jumping down into the crowd while singing “So Much for Everyone”, created a union between performer and fan, one that many will never forget.

The likeability and charm Dan Mangan exuded left me feeling like I knew him on a more personal level, a level greater than I ever would have imagined.

Make sure you don’t miss this local talent next time he’s in town, because comments like “I don’t know if anyone ever told you, but you guys are great,” are the humble words of a man who truly loves his city and what it has helped him become.

Queen Elizabeth Theatre? Not too shabby, Dan… not at all.