There are a couple of concerts – for the venue, the music and the company – that really stand out for me in terms of lasting impressions. One of these shows was in April 2005 and it was Mando Diao at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto with all of my siblings, a cousin and a couple good friends – one of these friends being Derek Bodden. He had introduced Mando Diao to my brother Les and I, and they became the soundtrack to my life during 2004. When you walked in my house, it was almost like “The Band” was the theme song to whatever episode was about to ensue. But seeing them live made me love them even more. They were loud, charismatic and best of all, they sounded better than the record.

The Band – Mando Diao
[audio:|titles=the band – Mando Diao]

These guys will be releasing an ‘unplugged’ album of some of their best songs so I’ll leave it to the man who introduced us, take it away Bodds…

It’s certainly been tough to keep up with the new music lately. 2010 is definitely coming to a strong end and believe it or not, I actually do listen to music besides Weezer. Another one of my favourite bands is releasing a live unplugged album early December 2010 and I found it worth sharing.

The band is Mando Diao and they hail from Brolange Sweden. If I had to, I would best describe them as a very talented rock band with a strong hint of blues. I honestly cannot figure out why these guys are not more popular in North America. They do have a pretty big following in Europe and Japan, but haven’t seemed to have caught on with the Western audience. After hearing their debut album Bring ‘Em In in 2002, I would have pegged them to hit it pretty big in North America. It fit right in with the flavour at the time – The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes, The Vines, etc. Maybe they should have changed their name to “The Mando Diao”. Regardless, if you are a fan of the any of the bands mentioned above, and have not heard Bring ‘Em In, I highly, highly recommend it.

I am definitely selling them short by simply comparing them to all the “The” bands mentioned earlier. I can recall a comment about Mando Diao one time that read, “Mando Diao sounds like what The Strokes would sound like, had The Strokes listened to the Beatles”.

I mean, of course The Strokes are very familiar with the Beatles (at times you can hear it in their music). But the Beatles influence is much more in the forefront with Mando Diao. They aren’t ripping off the Beatles, rather building on foundation the Beatles have laid out. So I can sort of make sense of the above quote.

Vocal duties are shared by Bjorn Dixgard and Gustaf Noren, which makes for a great mix of styles and songs on their albums. Although both men are capable of fronting their own bands, it’s their partnership of intense vocals that make this band stand out. Gustaf is known for his awe-inspiring stage energy and matching voice, so when Bjorn takes the vocals with his soulful sound, you take notice. A great example of what his pipes have to offer is on the track “Mr.Moon”. A great track that describes all the qualities of their sound mentioned above too. I have posted both versions below and although I love the original as much as the unplugged version, it’s a little bit easier to appreciate the bluesy vibe on the unplugged version – just listen to that guitar.

Mr.Moon – Mando Diao (album version)
[audio:|titles=01 Mr Moon – Mando Diao]

Mr.Moon – Mando Diao (unplugged)
[audio:|titles=19 Mr. Moon (MTV Unplugged)]

Mando Diao followed up Bring ‘Em In with 2004’s Hurricane Bar. Although this album did not resonate with me quite like their debut, it still contained a nice dose of rock n’ roll. The album continued along in the same vane as Bring ‘Em In, but I think they were settling in with their sound on this record. The album was not stocked with Pop/Rock hits, but a clear demonstration of their ability to play and record Rock.

Part of Mando Diao’s unplugged set contained “You Can’t Steal My Love” from Hurricane Bar. The unplugged treatment is a stripped down piano-only version of the album track. I think the piano version actually outshines the album version. Both are strong tracks, but there is a very strong John Lennon influence going on in the piano version. I realize the John Lennon comparison can be perceived as a pretty bold statement – I am not saying this is a Lennon imitation, rather a Lennon influence. Both tracks can be heard below and you can judge for yourself.

You Can’t Steal My Love – Mando Diao (album version)
[audio:|titles=05 You Can’t Steal My Love – original]

You Can’t Steal My Love – Mando Diao (unplugged)
[audio:|titles=13 You Can’t Steal My Love (MTV Unplugged)]

I’ve had the pleasure of taking in a couple live shows over the past few years. Both shows took place at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, one of them being the show Mon mentioned above. If you ever get a chance to check these guys out, I’d highly recommend it. They put it all on the table. You’ll appreciate how hard they are playing, how much they are sweating, and above all, how good they sound. Other than writing great music and offering his distinct vocals, I think one of Noren’s biggest assets is his ability to grab and hold an audience’s attention. You can tell that his intensity is something that comes from truly loving what he is doing. When I envision a Rock n’ Roll show, Noren and company are the image that comes to mind.

Mando Diao also has a great ability to offer up fun Pop/Rock songs that can be a refreshing addition to many playlists. One track that does just that is “Song for Aberdeen” off 2006’s Ode to Ochrasy. This is one of those tunes that sounds good the first time you hear it – possibly singing along before it’s over. I definitely can be caught belting out “Baby that was the last time I forgave you/the last time I forgave you…” when this song is being played. Since I’m not exactly a singer myself, the song works really well on solo car rides– the best place to belt out your favourite tunes. A definite toe tapper (or dashboard drummer!)

Unfortunately, I think the unplugged version is inferior to the original album track. Not that the unplugged version is bad. It starts off really good but then basically kicks into a replica of the album track on acoustic guitars. After a few listens, I’d say my preference is tapping to the album version.

Song For Aberdeen – Mando Diao (album version)
[audio:|titles=13 Song for Aberdeen]

Song For Aberdeen – Mando Diao (unplugged)
[audio:|titles=06 Song For Aberdeen (MTV Unplugged)]

Well that pretty much wraps up my quick look at Mando Diao. It really is a brief snapshot of the band. To date, they have 5 full-length records, all of which will be a great addition to your music library. If you are looking for somewhere to start, my favourites are 2002’s Bring ‘Em In and 2006’s Ode to Ochrasy. Two albums that I revisit on a regular basis. This unplugged album is a very nice compliment to their entire catalogue.

Thanks Bodds. So there you have it everyone. Enjoy the tunes and let me know what you think. Have you heard Mando Diao before? Ever seen them live? Whatever life throws your way this week, remember to keep those toes tappin’.

* If you are a member or manager of the above band and you would like your track removed, please contact us and we will swiftly oblige. Fans – new or old – please support these bands by using your coffee money to buy their records.