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Dan, Specks and Julie 

Mangan Symphony collabs and knock-out solo sets

A photo Dan Mangan and SNS on Friday. Or in 1993. #notaphotog
  • A photo Dan Mangan and SNS on Friday. Or in 1993. #notaphotog

Has your HPX comedown started sinking in yet? Are you curled up on your couch, listening to the album of someone you saw last night and reminiscing whilst shoving your face with chips? Yeah. Goodbyes are hard, but take solace in all those great memories you made this week. But, but... IS IT REALLY OVER?!

Two of my great memories this week were mellower, sit down shows with polite clapping but no shortage of laughs. On Friday night indie golden boy and all-around sweetheart Dan Mangan teamed up with Symphony Nova Scotia (and its new resident conductor Jonathan Govias) for his third HPX appearance and a sold out Cohn crowd. He did a really great job loosening up the crowd, which was pretty stiff during his first set, with his usual charisma and plenty of jokes… I even saw a couple of the Symphony players crack smiles. It was awesome to hear songs from his newer record Oh Fortune, one that was begging to be fully orchestrated, filled out gorgeously. And his older songs made for some really interesting arrangements, too. Best song of the night was the completely chaotic "Regarding Death and Dying" and the best moment was the encore, where Mangan and bassist John Walsh came out to the standing O to deliver a stripped down version of "Robots". Though the song wasn't arranged with the Symphony he urged them to join by reminding them multiple times, "It's a very repetitive chord progression!". A lone flute player was the only one who chimed in for most of the song, and she friggin' shredded it. You're a champ Patty!

On rainy old Saturday St. Matt's was near-filled to see the lovely Julie Doiron and Polaris shortlister Cold Specks. Both performed solo, guitars in hand, and blew me away by inflating up the church with their bang-on vocals. Doiron took requests and got some things off her chest, musing about flight attendants who wear perfume and venting about why no one should ever read comments on the internet (hey juliehater, you've got no friends in Halifax). In short, she was, as always, completely delightful. Then came Cold Specks (AKA Ontario-native Al Spx) who commanded the crowd with what she said was her last solo performance, ever. Holy shit guys. THAT VOICE. Girl doesn't need accompaniment. She serenaded with most (if not all) of her self-proclaimed "depressing" Polaris nominated album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion, lightened the mood with her take on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme and nearly made me cry with a traditional acappella closer. Sure, the songs may have been gloomy, but the show was far from it. Churches were built for worshipping, and I totally did some last night.

Happy 20th HPX, thanks for another unforgettable week of amazing music and bringing the Marquee back to life .

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