Mac DeMarco – Brighton Dome – 27th November 2017

Mac DeMarco – Brighton DomeLet’s be honest, Mac DeMarco is really at the top of his game these days both on stage and in the studio. He’s aware of his triumph as well, quite frankly it’s unavoidable. He’s gotten to the point where he has his own cult of Mac, so to speak. His fans adore him for all his goofy bum-chic charm. They see him as one of themselves and try to emulate the qualities they see in him. The Dome almost looks like a Mac DeMarco costume party and the sell-out crowd is here to see their spiritual king. It really does rub off on you though. I do consider myself a big fan anyway but nowhere near as dedicated as the audience tonight. You can’t help but get swept up in the excitement and it really does feel like a superstar has walked out on stage.

Mac’s music is an open book and no listener could possibly find him abrasive. He’s made music that’s both relaxing and exciting, it would suit a party just as much as it would suit the hangover. He opens with ‘On the Level’ and the sound really is amazing. Each queasy synth note fills the huge space and fits as well. I’ve been envious that many of my friends caught him at Concorde 2 on the Salad Days tour but he seems completely at home at the Dome. If you argue with many music fans over large gigs vs small gigs, small gigs always win. I’m not so sure on this. Seeing Mac and many other artists in a huge venue is always incredibly exciting. Granted, you can’t brag about anything but, seeing great artists play huge shows is something really special. After supporting and listening to them for so long their success is yours, you feel like you’ve contributed in some way to building them up.

He’s never been afraid of a skit or indulging in playing around with his audience. His first EP Rock and Roll Night Club was full of 30 second parody radio links. His band are introduced at the very beginning in this fashion, with his voice spooling out on a slowed down tape recorder. Between songs there’s a lot of exchange between the band and audience. Mac squats and waves to fans on top of other fans’ shoulders. A genius moment in the gig is a five-minute rant by his drummer Joe McMurray donning a semi-convincing German accent ranting about Brexit, winding up the crowd. A very good link into ‘Freaking Out the Neighborhood’.

Antics aside, none of this would work if the music wasn’t excellent, and it really does deliver. There’s something really magical in hearing all of the Dome sing along to ‘My Kind of Woman’ in fact, all of the slower songs come with sing-along. It’s clear that the show is kept as loose as possible or at least it appears spontaneous. There’s a lot of jamming onstage and messing around with the songs. He does a sort of jazz piano-influenced turn of ‘My Old Man’ which upsets me that it isn’t a B-side somewhere. He plays all the classics such as ‘Ode to Viceroy’, ‘Salad Days’, ‘Chamber of Reflection’ and more, he is a man that traffics in classics.

He ends with ‘Still Together’ at 10:30 and the show actually ends just after 11. He is prone to skipping an encore and launching into jamming and covers. Again here his sense of humour does really shine through as well as moments of brilliance. A cover that he’s kept in his pocket for a while is ‘There She Goes’ by The La’s. The song really lends itself to his voice, so

much so if you’ve not heard it you can picture exactly how he does it. This is also where the fandom goes up a notch as the end of the show is imminent. Mac has a look, if you don’t know what he looks like take a look around Brighton and you’ll find mini Macs everywhere. A signature of his is the cap. So when 15 or so are hurled on stage he tries to don them all.

After his slew of covers they all walk off as the Dome erupts with applause. As it empties out he comes back on for a final number ‘Watching Him Fade Away’ insisting that the Dome all sit down for this one. He shuts off the lights and gets the crowd to use smartphone torches. It’s really a crowd swaying moment and another excuse for a singalong. The Dome’s never looked prettier than it did tonight, all lit up with tiny white lights.

Chris Middleton