Mac DeMarco bewilders me. Following the Odd Future model he should, by now, have lost some of his alternative appeal, demoted to the status of "still good but now loads of 14 year old like him". His show in Manchester suggests the exact opposite has happened. Over the last year or so Mac has somehow managed to consolidate and re-energise his existing fans, whilst steadily building on them with earnest, engaged ears. The Ritz was swollen with bodies, and before he came on stage, rang with chants of his name. It was an environment of unbridled affection for a man who seems to be growing in popularity without losing any of the intimacy on which his fan-base thrive.
Rushing into proceedings with a brief introduction of his band, he embarked on a set that encompassed his two most recent albums, ‘2’ and ‘Salad Days’. Initially this comprised of shattering through the titular ‘Salad Days’ along with ‘The Stars Keep on Calling My Name’. The melodies were brazenly returned to the band by his crowd, yet at the offset they remained perhaps a little lax, allowing themselves the time to warm up with their jizz-jazz groove. Perhaps the set started a little cautiously for an already buoyant audience, but to those familiar with his music this introductory period performed perfectly for joyous chaos that followed.
Past this early lull the dynamic built palpably to a glorious final act, that saw Mac take the cotton soft track ‘Together’, from ‘2’, and somehow turn it into a rabble rousing anthem. Perhaps this is ultimately his greatest skill. Earlier in the set I was struck by how the singalong with ‘Treat Her Better’, had a largely male crowd crowing "Treat her better boy..." Mac DeMarco manages to galvanize personal sentiment, and candid emotional themes, and communicate them in a way that seems attractively brash and effortless, without sacrificing any of their original closeness. There was a true sense of relatable loyalty amongst the swathes of people as they left the venue. Sharing less in the awe of incomprehensible artistry, but more in the glow of personal investment. The sort of personal intimacy that can only be achieved through a truly charismatic unifying force.
Words: Angus Harrison