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Capitol 10th: Magical Memories with Dan Mangan

Article by Melanie Macpherson

Photos by Tracy Creighton/Copperblue Photography and Design

On a cool May evening, The Capitol Music Club in Saskatoon buzzed with a special kind of energy. As part of their month-long 10th anniversary celebration, the venue was set to host the enchanting Dan Mangan, with Softlung opening the night. The crowd gathered early, eager for an evening of music that promised to be unforgettable.

Softlung, a supergroup made up of some of Saskatoon’s finest musicians, took the stage first. Led by S.J. Kardash, known for his global tours with Reignwolf and his work locally as a producer.  The band exuded a retro-beachy-surf-pop vibe that brought to mind The Beatles or The Beach Boys. Colin Klassen playing baritone guitar, synth and drum machine, Anthony Allegretto’s bass and vocals, Connor Cassidy’s guitar, piano and vocals, and Barrett Ross’s drums created a rich tapestry of sound. The audience was treated to a fantastic set of boppy and delightful songs like "Going Under With You" and "Don't Say No" or the more dreamy psychedelic feeling "That's Not Really Love" and “Worry”.  Their first show ever was a perfect prelude, setting the mood for the main event.

There was a short break to remove all the instruments and clear the stage completely.  After a few moments, a couple of guitars were set gently in place.  Then, with an understated smile, Dan Mangan stepped onto the stage. The room erupted, only to fall silent as he strummed the first chords of “Fool For Waiting.” It was as if someone had hit a mute button, as the crowd froze in rapt attention. Mangan’s voice, raw and full of emotion, filled the space, creating an intimate connection with everyone present.

Between songs, Mangan’s humor and storytelling shone. Introducing “Just Know It,” he joked that the song was about repeatedly shooting yourself in the foot but from the foot’s perspective, drawing laughter and cheers. When he launched into “Road Regrets,” the audience softly began to sing along, gaining confidence until their voices filled the room. Mangan chuckled, “You guys know this one?” turning the moment into a beautiful communal experience.

The sing-along continued with a song that feels pulled directly from my innermost thoughts; "Lay Low" had the feeling of a gentle anthem for the socially awkward.  Then, Mangan opened the floor to requests. Fans eagerly shouted their favorites, and Mangan obliged with stories and songs. “Whistleblower,” “Lynch Pin,” and “Tina’s Glorious Comeback,” (which was inspired by ugly bus stops), brought cheers and laughter.  With the cover of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” (Anybody else need a tissue?), he good-naturedly accepted the audience’s help when he forgot some lyrics.   

The night continued to flow with “Leaves, Trees, Forest,” and “Troubled Mind.” Before singing “Peaks and Valleys.” Mangan shared how the song was inspired by a friend’s wife, Sadie, bringing him a cup of tea when he had overindulged. Since “Sadie” didn’t rhyme with “valleys,” he changed her name to Sally.

As the night wound down, Mangan performed “Fire Escape”, and introduced new songs; “For Him”, which is about not wanting your ex to date vampires and “Soap Box” which allowed him to express all his political views at once. “Basket” brought an intense and climactic conclusion to the main set.

But the magic wasn’t over. Eschewing a traditional encore, Mangan stepped to the front of the stage, beyond the mics and lights, and sang “All My People” directly to the crowd. Stepping from the front of the stage and walking through the audience, he ended up standing on a table in the middle of the room, leading a heart-wrenchingly beautiful sing-along. From his island in a sea of adoring fans, he told the audience one more song and rolled into “Robots”. The room wasn’t ready to let go though, and Mangan obligingly sang “So Much for Everyone,” but asked the crowd to help by providing the “ooh oohs”. The haunting harmonies lifted the night to an ethereal plane.

Dan Mangan’s performance was more than a concert; it was a shared moment of magic, where time seemed to stand still. His songs, filled with the poetry of everyday life and the quirky details that make it real, resonated deeply. The Capitol Music Club, in celebrating its milestone, gave Saskatoon a night that will linger in the hearts and memories of those who were there, proof of the power of simple, honest music to touch us.

(last image by Melanie Macpherson)

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