Secret Meeting score: 70
by Philip Moss
There’s something special about Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV – or, as he’s more commonly known, Mac De Marco. He’s an independent artist in every sense of the word who’s doing it the old fashioned way: releasing consistently great records (written, recorded, mixed and produced by himself) through an understanding, independent label, Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks. But, among the beige, major label singer ‘songwriters’, Mac is refreshingly special. He’s an ‘everyman’ – a modern day hybrid of Beavis and Butthead for the YouTube generation with a frighteningly dedicated army of young fans. Judging by the queue to tonight’s show, Affleck’s Palace must be booming again in the clamour to get a Mac ‘uniform’ of oversized shirt and sweater, ripped jeans, white tube socks, peaked cap and a pair of knackered Vans.
Off the back of his most mature record yet, This Old Dog, Mac rolled into Manchester already on a high. Since its release in May, he’s done his fair share of globetrotting (according to Songkick, he travelled 430,000 miles last year), playing his biggest headline and festival shows to date. So, this show is moderately sized against his recent standards.
With a set that leaned heavily on his latest album, songs such as My Old Man and Moonlight on the River (which represent his most carefully crafted output to date) produced beautiful sing-a-long moments as the stage lights – on Mac’s request – were cut and the room was illuminated by 2000 mobile phone lights.
But, Mac clearly knew his crowd were not just there for a good ol’ sing song. The raucous, jangly slacker pop of Ode to Viceroy and Freaking Out the Neighbourhood, both taken from his debut album, 2, received a rapturous response as arms flailed, crowd surfers surfed and Mac performed a series of handstands.
However, the biggest sing-a-long was saved for a rather unexpected number – an impromptu cover of Oasis’ Live Forever – giving the mostly pubescent crowd exactly what they wanted. A homage to some of their city’s biggest heroes, from their new hero – ‘Live Forever, Manchester! I’ll see you around town later on this evening.’
Unfortunately there was time for one side step before the night was done. Mac got behind the kit with Joe McMurray (his usual sticksman) taking centre stage to perform god awful versions of Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Under the Bridge and The Darkness’ I Believe in a Thing Called Love. But, that’s Mac all over. His gigs are on his terms, no one else’s, and he brings a whole load of fun to the party to boot.