Let us focus on the good stuff! There is no better way to improve the mood than with some good music. Earlier this week, Canadian musician Dan Mangan, who was opening for James Vincent McMorrow, preached a musical journey to a fervent crowd at Webster Hall. Dan and Dan alone planted himself on that stage in the Grand Ballroom for a well-deserved welcome for all music fans alike to take a break from everything that night.
Heading to Webster Hall Monday evening was a strangely anticipating notion. With the American election appearing the following day, some listeners sorely needed an escape from their fearful thoughts. The cool breeze and busy streets allowed for some additional distractions. Arriving at Webster Hall, to a completely sold out show, fans were easily led inside to the Grand Ballroom. The unusually dark room had a foreboding purple glare on stage. Up in the balcony, a slideshow of the upcoming acts were proudly displayed as a small crowd steadily grew in the center of the space. Despite the anticipation, everything was steady and calm. Fans were happily mingling with one another with drinks in hand. It was the deep breath before the unknown storm. There was only chatter in the space and no radio overplay. Once the balcony screens transitioned to a camera view of the purple stage, slight cheers rose up as Dan’s set was to begin.
The man came from behind James Vincent McMorrow’s elaborate light fixtures and waved happily to the crowd. As the lights dimmed, Dan picked up his acoustic guitar and graciously introduced himself to the listeners. From the start, his music was chill soul. His elaborate vocal range was perfect for his folksy soul tunes. He held a blank-face stare out into the audience as he sung his lyrics with a slight angst in his voice. His spoken word chorus was special and unique. All of the chords from his guitar were soft and pleasant. At the end of every song, Dan made sure to give a little story for each or to build up the next song at hand. His deep baritone voice shift was an entertaining part of his set as he organized silent spacing though the lyrics.
Dan was open and alone with his music. Respectfully, his vulnerability was courageous and powerful. Intermittent whoops and hollers sprung up out of various intervals, which was always met with a grin on Dan’s face. The music was all pure storytelling with glimpses of innocence, struggle and unwavering emotion. He was bearing it all willingly. Unfortunately, his set was met with ever consistent chatter from the crowd. It only got silent ever so slightly. Even though it was hard to hear, he still worked his magic professionally. A form of outlaw folk chimed in and foot tapping followed. He was a journeyman with his music.
The musician had some vibrant spirit about him that made him and his music oddly alluring. Most people who respected his talent were transfixed by the quavering vigor in his voice. He was no stranger to philosophy as he spoke about the emotional spectrum and everything in between. Dan’s voice always seemed to dominate over his guitar. It was clear his voice was the main instrument of the night. As the set came to a close, he introduced a song that allowed for some crowd participation in the chanting chorus. He easily orchestrated it all and it was marvelous. In the end, every soul was swaying with extreme content.
Photo Credit: Norman Wong