It takes quite a bit to get me to voluntarily go to church. After a mildly stressful day at the office, the notion of leaving the house and standing in a line of indie-hipsters that snakes around two blocks of downtown Edmonton on one of the coldest days so-far this year, was even less appealing.
But as my weary bones sunk into a second floor pew and warmth settled into my skin I started to appreciate that this place of worship wasn’t really that strange of a place to listen to music. In fact, aside from the stained glass windows and the giant organ behind the stage McDougall United Church reminded me of one of my favourite places of musical worship Massey Hall. Both built over a century ago and aiming for optimum acoutics they’re designed to make sure that even the person in the very back corner of the balcony is moved (they also have similarly hard, old, wooden seats that make your butt hurt after sitting for an extended period of time - though Massey had the sense to replace their orchestra level seats with lovely padded ones).
Dan Mangan’s 2009 album Nice, Nice, Very Nice has been such a favourite of mine that it has a place of honour in my vehicle as one of my “go to” discs. I have to admit that until the show I haven’t really given his new album Oh Fortune much of a chance. Not because it isn’t great but because there’s something warm and snuggly about familiar tunes.
As beautiful as his folksy melodies play in my car on the chilly autumn afternoon they get a whole new dimension played live. As if knowing I needed a push into the new record Mangan started the show the same way he started the album with “About as Helpful as You Can Be Without Being Any Help at All” swelling with ambient, organized noise before crashing into the waltzy melody.