Edinburgh Ushers in Mac DeMarco for the first time this August

Wednesday 30th August

Surrounded by adoring fans, the Canadian singer-songwriter-cum-indie-royalty took over Usher Hall’s stage on August 30, filling its lofty heights with his jangly indie pop. The night provided a refuge for today’s disaffected youths adorned in trainers, caps and dungarees, all itching for a glimpse of their idol.

Following the tremendous support  of  Alex Cameron, swarms of fans welcomed Mac DeMarco to thundering applause. Launching the two hour set with the new ‘On The Level’, the singer immediately grabbed the attention of the crowd; swiftly moving through a roll call of well-loved tunes such as ‘Salad Days’ and ‘The Stars Keep On Calling My Name’, he sent the fans into a frenzy. Followed by an ecstatic cover of Crystal Waters’ house classic ‘Gypsy Woman’, Mac and co. found the crowd erupting in appreciation.

A disappointing start to the second half came complete with uncomfortably long in-jokes and an overly-extensive cover of the Star Wars theme, leaving the atmosphere sour. Recovering with another series of favourites: ‘My Kind of Woman’, ‘Freaking out The Neighbourhood’, the group shortly resorted again to in-jokes and overly self-indulgent stage chat. Nevertheless Mac carried on with the silky smooth ‘One More Love Song’, from his most recent record This Old Dog. Rounding off the set was the ode to his partner ‘Still Together’, albeit interrupted by a 20 minute pause that saw Mac crowd-surfing on a drum case whilst smoking a cigarette. Thankfully, his band stepped in to fill the gap with a cover of the Vanessa Carlton hit ‘A Thousand Miles’; but this soon grows tiresome. Not to say this wasn’t enjoyable, but four minutes of it on repeat is quite enough to satiate the early ‘00s nostalgia for everyone in the room. In stark contrast to the lyricist behind the tender songs, Mac came across as brutish and loud, spurred on by the fanaticism his fans afforded him.

For the most part it is easy to see why Mac is so loved, reasons which I hold my own: Mac writes brilliant easy-going songs about love and relationships, not dwelling too deeply on the darker parts of life but easily accessing them when the situation calls. DeMarco and his band are also first-class musicians playing difficult songs flawlessly despite their level of inebriation. Mac has been known to recount how hard he had to work to get to where he is, and it’s clear nothing was handed to him, but when half a gig is spent not playing music it begs the question as to whether he can maintain this without making a change.

His notoriety for on-stage antics precedes him but his fans will see him regardless. This performance at Usher Hall asks whether he can continue to play off an amateur image or whether he should start acting like the world class musician he is?

IMAGE: Douglas Hill

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