Dan Deacon @ Classic Grand, Glasgow, 1 Feb

The uncategorizable synth-wizard brings his new album to Glasgow with a barrage of dancing, high fives and brilliant tunes

Live Review by Lewis Wade | 04 Feb 2020
  • Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon knows that his music is conducive to movement. But how do you get a stiff, indie crowd to loosen up? First, you introduce a non-competitive dance-off, bringing up the house lights on the crowd. Second, elect temporary dance captains to lead their half of the room in spontaneous, interpretative movements. Third, construct a tunnel of people to snake its way out of the room and away to who-knows-where? (the planning didn't get that far). Finally, 'close' the main set with a 'wall of life' – i.e. people coming together to high five incessantly and dance.

All of this mania is soundtracked by a selection of samples, pitch-shifted vocals, synth detours and generally unidentifiable electronic concoctions. Following a lengthy and hilarious introductory rant about wet wipes (and their inefficacy) and coronavirus (not the plague that'll annihilate us), Deacon begins with a pair of anthropomorphic tales; Become a Mountain from his brilliant new album Mystic Familiar, and The Crystal Cat. He bobs and weaves around the small stage, bringing a particularly wizardly prowess to his performance.

Most of the set is taken from the new album, including the ARP suite of songs and Fell Into the Ocean, many being played live for just the second time. However, lack of recognition does nothing to detract from the experience, as singalongs are hardly common for a Deacon tune (unless you're some sort of cartoon woodland creature) and everything about this show is geared towards communal good times. It's all about great music, respect and a whole lot of dancing, in whatever form that may take.

A quickly blinked stage light indicates that we're now in the 'encore' portion of the show (very different from the 'soundcheck' portion that kicked us off) and Deacon dusts off the classic Wham City – probably the song that best encapsulates all the key tenets of his music: manic pitch-shifted vocals, fantastical lyrics and propulsive synth programming that builds to a fever-pitch drop.

That the music is going to be excellent is almost a given, but the way Deacon coaxes such a rampantly joyful atmosphere out of the night is his true skill. If you have the means, a Dan Deacon performance is something everyone should experience at least once.