Mac DeMarco at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin, 14th July 2019

Tucked away amicably in D2’s verdant Iveagh Gardens was the setting for this year’s dose of Mac DeMarco. Taking place on a Sunday, it’s a blessing and a curse tours typically conclude in Ireland.

Nevertheless, Stephens Green’s more reserved, prettier cousin reached full bloom as nearly 4,000 twentysomethings descended upon its grounds.

Arriving onstage to what sounded like ‘The Godfather’ opening theme (a nod to his Italian heritage perhaps), what followed didn’t necessarily match the machismo of Don Marlon. In the age of, as Laura Snapes of The Guardian puts it, ‘beta male misogyny’, just as well maybe. DeMarco is a breath of fresh air.

His stock has risen steadily since his breakthrough, ‘Salad Days’ in 2014. And its titular track provided the perfect backdrop for a sunny summers evening filled with both exuberance and saudade in equal measure. It followed On the Level nicely and immediately picked the audience off their feet.

Some of new album, ‘Here Comes the Cowboy’ felt improvised so in this sense, a song like Choo Choo had the opportunity to find its calling on the stage. Last time out, this writer pondered what would happen if DeMarco ventured headfirst onto the soul train. If he ever read that, he took it too literally. This song is filler at best.

Whereas ‘This Old Dog’ germinated new ideas (not least the slick, falsetto-laden, synth-heavy On the Level), ‘Here Comes the Cowboy’ at times weighed too heavily on parody.

This element of parody is something that he has deployed to great effect in his media persona and if we are to guess correctly, this doesn’t stray too far from his own. This was as absorbing and entertaining as ever, DeMarco frequently ad-libbing with his vocal register and bandmates.

‘Here Comes the Cowboy’ produced rare moments such as the woozy Nobody. Live, it landed even better, carrying you in its grasp and laying your head in its mighty refrain. An early highlight.

Ironically, Mac never sounded so zany as before he even released an album, way back in early 2012. Sat somewhere between the late Dick Dale and a Spaghetti Western, Rock and Roll Nightclub continues to be an ace up his sleeve.

Another high point, was My Old Man. DeMarco has moulded it to his tune, stretching it out to nearly ten glorious minutes, leading to one of the biggest singalongs of the evening in the process.

Elsewhere, its merely a testament to the melody that Still Beating was able to be stripped of its riff, infectious enough in its own right. This added extra emotional pull to what were already pretty powerful lyrics.

It was nice that there was room found for the sedative keyboard-driven, Another One (from 2015’s underrated mini-LP of the same name) too. But it was set closer, Still Together which really captured the imagination.

Taking his time, DeMarco practically started yodelling as he hit the chorus then, after leading the crowd into an explosive medley of Metallica’s Enter Sandman he reprised  Still Together in one final eruption.

Mac has experimented with this dynamic for a while, but he’s finally found the winning formula in the unlikeliest of places. Long may he continue to astound. A thoroughly enjoyable gig. Here’s just hoping the next album he brings on tour is slightly better.