Mac DeMarco – Manchester Academy – 25/11/17

PHOTOS BY PERRY LEACH

Mac DeMarco’s fans are no strangers to crazy. Within ten minutes of arriving at Manchester Academy, one guy’s already been thrown out, with some still testing their luck by attempting to sneak through the venue’s side entrance. Nevertheless, it’s evident that people are here for a good time; braving Manchester’s wind and rain, hoards of dungaree-clad, cap-wearing gig-goers pour in for this sold-out show, with many queuing at the box office in hopes of last minute efforts to witness what can only be described as an experience.

Melbourne-based band Montero kick-start the evening. Described by Mess + Noise as “a lyrical proponent of love, peace, magic and self-belief’”, Montero live up to this reputation, radiating 70’s-nostalgic, hazy, soft-rock vibes to create a relaxing ambiance. However,  ‘Tokin’ the Night Away’ sees the vocals suddenly increase both in volume and timbre, bordering on screamo-style singing; whilst this comes as a slight surprise, perhaps this moment of oddity was to be expected – as one of the members is donning a Santa-style dressing gown.

The audience cheers even before DeMarco even graces us with his presence. The lights dim, and a mock-like, boxing match-style announcement is made for each musician as they go on stage. Finally, DeMarco makes his grand entrance, launching straight into opener ‘On the Level’, its four-note, dreamy synth motif echoing through the Academy. As DeMarco sings the first line, the crowd join in with some of the most cynically optimistic lyrics of 2017 – “This could be your year”.

Despite releasing This Old Dog earlier this year, most of DeMarco’s set is comprised of new and classic favourites from previous albums – particularly the critically acclaimed Salad Days. DeMarco is undoubtedly enjoying himself. His energy is unending, with tries made at handstands and jumps off the onstage platform. His showmanship is also impeccable. “BACK IN MANCHESTER!” he bellows, knowing how to give the crowd exactly what they want. Positivity is also his end game – “Respect your neighbour, keep it real,” he announces, and from the audience reaction, it’s clear his words have resonated. During mellower numbers like ‘This Old Dog’ and ‘My Old Man’, the crowd are harmoniously united; “Put your cell phone lights in the air…turn the stage lights off…beautiful!” DeMarco exclaims wistfully, delighted at the result.

It seems spontaneity drives the night, with the crowd frequently chanting ‘JEREMY CORBYN!’ and crooning Oasis’s ‘Live Forever’ in between tracks. DeMarco displays a similar carefree attitude towards his song choices; in justifying his reason for playing ‘Let Her Go,’ he announces, “Haven’t played it in a couple of years, but f*ck it, who gives a sh*t!” causing a wave of laughter. During ‘My Kind of Woman’, DeMarco imitates a cockney accent, his comical persona truly exposed.

After closing with ‘Still Together’, an encore’s eagerly anticipated – and in true DeMarco style, it’s far from ordinary. Albeit slightly bizarre, DeMarco switches to rock mode, flitting between covers of classics such as Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s ‘Under the Bridge’ and The Darkeness’ ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love,’ with a random interjection of 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ to boot, with vocals courtesy of drummer Joe McMurray. Nevertheless, the audience embraces it, so much so DeMarco gives a second encore. The end of the night sees his fans satiated – and it’s fair to say that many will be looking forward to the return of the Mac very soon.

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