Review: Connan Mockasin exudes character in live performance at Manchester Dancehouse theatre

  • Laidback in conversation yet exaggerated in style, Connan Mockasin is an enigma to the music industry.
  • The surrealist R&B singer exudes character which perfectly matched his choice of venue for the night.

Designed in the late 1800’s, The Dancehouse Theatre unsuspiciously sits between a Ladbrokes and Greggs on the busy Oxford Road. Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by the classic interior. Floridly lit tiered seats placed before a large yet modest stage created an intimate atmosphere for Mockasin’s show.

Eagerly anticipating his arrival on stage, I began to ponder what outlandish ensemble he would present himself in next. To my disbelief, he graced the stage looking almost unrecognizable. Sporting a badly attached 70’s wig and round clear frames it soon became clear he, along with the band were mirroring each character’s look in reference to Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn.  Mockasin plays fictional music teacher ‘Dobsyn’ in the film whilst childhood neighbour, Blake Pryor plays the student, “Dobsyn”.

As the ambient red lights transitioned to a cold blue, “Charlottes Thong” began to play. In true facsimile fashion to the record, a vibration of slow, electric guitar ignited the room and Mockasin began his slurry style of singing. After a transcendental 9 minutes, Mockasin thanked the applauses with a peace sign and proceeded to play a personal favourite “Last Night”; a love song accompanied by the almost whimpering sounds of despair as he whines the words “Last night, you blew me away”. Another notable track was the instrumental “You Can Do Anything”, containing a melting pot of components that are reminiscent to soft rock and traditional Chinese folk music.

After a change of clothes, Mockasin payed homage to earlier work such as his 80’s synth-pop track “Do I Make You Feel Shy?” and even a few tunes from Soft Hair, his 2016 collaboration band with LA Priest. In between songs, Mockasin enjoyed lining the room with capricious guitar twiddling and awkward silences with the odd comment in between. Overall the gig was not one to be forgotten; an immersive yet perplexing few hours which left me hankering for more.

(Photo credit: Robert Barrat)