Night & Day, Manchester
It’s one of those nights when all of the rain in England decides to fall on Manchester and the turn-out isn’t what it could have been, but Mark Mulcahy - he of the Miracle Legion, he of Polaris, he who includes the likes of Michael Stipe, Thom Yorke and Matt Berninger among his many fans – plays a blinder. Making a rare-ish trip to the UK thanks to his spot at ATP (at the special request of The National), Mulcahy is one of those godlike geniuses, one of those colossal superstars who exist on the sidelines. One beloved by those who know the secret and largely ignored by a population more interested in finding out which pub singer is going to win the X Factor.
Performing a set largely culled from ‘Fathering’ and his forthcoming LP due out in the new year – so we’re talking ‘I Woke Up on the Mayflower’, ‘Hurry Please Hurry’, ‘Bill Jocko’ and, of course, ‘Hey Self Defeater’ (the song that Thom Yorke wishes ‘Creep’ could be) – Mulcahy is by turns hilarious, moving, awe-inspiring and amazing. He’s all dressed up in a red suit and his voice zips from Jeff Buckley falsetto through Otis Redding crackly soul, often in the space of the same song. The audience clap and sing along and yell things like, “It’s great to see you, Mark” – to which he quietly responds, “No, it’s great to see you.”
Yeah he looks like Will Ferrell in a fright wig or a Muppet version of John Travolta but, when he’s performing ‘The Quiet One’, when he’s performing ‘Cookie Jar’, when he’s performing ‘Love’s The Only Thing (That Shuts Me Up)’, you could hear a pin drop. “You really are very well behaved,” Mark tells us. After the show, as The Fly leaves the building, the big man is signing CDs over at the back of the bar and people are shaking his hand and asking for hugs – a hug from Mark Mulcahy is cold, hard currency as the nights get colder – and we all agree again: the man is a God.