Photography: Georgina Hurdsfield
For a thick-skinned Northern audience, even the cold and rainy weather in Manchester couldn’t spoil the anticipation for Mac DeMarco’s gig at Manchester Academy on Saturday night. The crowd appeared to be in a unanimous state of excitement for Mac’s first appearance in Manchester in over two years, with a sea of denim jackets and trucker caps waiting as if Mac were an old friend back in the city.
It’s difficult not to see why the singer hasn’t built up a crowd of faithful fans, as he embraced the stage with a palpable sense of optimism, that echoes in the lyrics of opener On The Level. “Boy, this could be your year” Mac calmly sings in front of the sold out audience. Quickly moving on to Salad Days, the self-styled slacker’s answer to getting older, the crowd soon settled into a cheerful singalong that would set the tone for the rest of the setlist.
Following on came a cocktail of classics from a seemingly endless catalogue of what Mac has described as ‘Jizz Jazz’. Aside from an unexpected but hilarious ode to Oasis with a rendition of Live Forever (with Mac’s best Liam Gallagher impression), the set-list was dominated by steadier, acoustic heavy tracks from This Old Dog. Songs such as For the First Time, Dreams from Yesterday, and My Old Man provided some truly intimate and introspective moments, with Mac confidently showcasing himself as a matured songwriter.
It wasn’t really until the upbeat jangle of Freaking Out the Neighbourhood that Mac upped the antics of the crowd, when mosh pits began to break out all over Manchester Academy. Arguably one of the singer’s finest tracks, it was great to see him keep older material such as Freaking Out and Ode to Viceroy in the busy set-list. The songs have aged brilliantly too, especially My Kind of Woman, which cemented itself as a real standout.
As the set drew to a close with the acoustic romance of Still Together, the song launched into a somewhat dragged out improv-jam that even the singer of supporting band Montero got involved with. Admittedly, the snippet of the classic Red Hot Chili Peppers track Under the Bridge sent the crowd into a harmonious singalong, with Don’t Fear the Reaper and Black Sabbath’s Paranoid being thrown somewhere in the mix.
An encore of Watching Him Fade Away finished off the night, with Mac opting for a more sombre finish rather than his renowned crowdsurfing. Although the set-list wasn’t perhaps the most crowd-pleasing regarding the quieter moments, I soon overheard one ecstatic fan on the way out proclaim “Mac Demarco, I honestly think he’s a musical genius”. Whilst such a bold claim will undoubtedly raise discussion, it’s great to see artists like Mac DeMarco continue to move in new directions and develop a more unique sound with each album.