A tender Mac DeMarco unleashes his inner beast at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom

There are very few musicians today that garner the same support from an audience as Mac DeMarco. Even when they do, they usually have a career of a few decades behind them.

The fan-driven enthusiasm for the 27-year-old Canadian singer becomes evident at Barrowland Ballroom’s buzzing full house in Glasgow on Friday 24 November.

7:50 PM. Nearly one hour after the doors open, the anticipation grows stronger as the crowd expect the headliner. The wait is not too tedious thanks to the symphonic soft rock melody by warm-up band Montero.

9 PM. Theatrical black and white stage lights transition in a crossing fashion. “Joe McMuray… Andrew Charles White… Jon Lent… Alec Meen.” One after the other, the backing band members appear as their names are called out. Where is the lead singer?

Slowly, an ambiguous figure with a red tartan hat, ginger-haired wig and two green Beck’s bottles emerges. It is him.

“Make yourselves comfortable,” Mac DeMarco commands, following the lengthy wholehearted applause. “It’s been a while since I last visited Glasgow.” His last Glaswegian performance was indeed over two years ago, at the O2 ABC.

As soon as the guitar-based tunes begin, the Canadian frees himself from the Scottish head accessories and draws attention to his typical style: a laidback T-shirt and easy jeans.

Opening with ‘On the Level’ and then straight into ‘Salad Days’ and ‘No Other Heart’, the set includes a fantastic mixture of older classics from Salad Days and 2 as well as newer tracks from This Old Dog. Upon singing ‘Still Together’, the artist reveals: “This song is about my girlfriend who is back in Los Angeles in California right now.”

“Tell her that you love her,” the multitude echoes the vocalist. Triggering a cascade of jumping, crowd surfing and shoulder riding, ‘Let Her Go’ is clearly an all-time favourite. Plenty of energy continues to permeate the crowd as ‘One More Love Song’ follows.

On record, the soloist comes across as soft, gentle and innocent. Live, he is the polar opposite. Debaucherous, bouncy and dramatic, one can tell this man not only loves to sing but also embraces his true passion to entertain.

Ranging from five handstands to two toe touches to numerous lengthened screams, the performer keeps every single fan in the room wide awake. Putting on a deep villain voice, the showman covers The Bollock Brothers’ ‘Harley David’, reaffirming that he is not a singer who takes himself seriously, at all.

10:10 PM. The multi-instrumentalist switches positions with drummer Joe McMurray, trusting him with the microphone as he covers the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ ‘Under the Bridge’ and 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ with a honking voice. The amusement is priceless.

A few minutes in and the audience has already started to miss Mac’s chants. He returns to his good old spot in the stage centre only to begin “singing songs about the Southland.” If you have never witnessed a Canadian sing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ before, tonight is the night.

10:40 PM. Speedily spinning his microphone in the air like a cowboy, one would have thought DeMarco’s cable would rip any moment: “You should come out with us tonight,” he invites the audience, hinting that the performance is reaching an end. Extended drum sounds, keyboard tunes, and flashing lights dramatise the dance hall as the band takes its leave. The clapping, cheering and whistles are louder than all his tracks combined.

“One more tune!” the crowd yells, but the band has already left.

Image: Sara Konradi / Photo Editor

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