Jack’s Mannequin surpasses expectations at HOB

A review of Jack’s Mannequin at the House of Blues on April 27, 2009

, Staff Writer

While some artists are best left to studio albums, others clearly thrive on the energy of a live audience and as the sold-out crowd at the House of Blues on Monday night will attest, Jack’s Mannequin falls into the latter category.

With their own unique brand of California pop, meets piano rock, meets emo, Jack’s Mannequin is known for their low key harmonious sound and emotional lyrics, which is great for date night, but could it translate into an entertaining live show?& Well, thanks to front-man Andrew McMahon’s intensity, sense of playfulness and superior musicianship (he makes Chris Martin of Coldplay’s keyboard skills seem uninspired!) Jack’s Mannequin bestowed a performance that transcended my wildest expectations at the House of Blues on Monday.

Captivating the audience from the first song (girls were screaming, guys were crowd surfing) they hit the stage with “Crashin’” from their latest album The Glass Passenger and quickly transitioned to “The Mix Tape” from Everything in Transit, followed by “Spinning” and “Swim” both from their latest release. Building on the energy in the audience, McMahon picked it up a bit with “I’m Ready” and “Holiday From Real”. With its catchy summer inspired lyrics, “oh, California in the summer / ah, and my hair is growing long/ fuck yeah, we can live like this/ but if you left it up to me everyday would be/a holiday from real”, the mostly college age crowd loved it.

Jumping up top the piano, McMahon said,“Right now, I want to see hands in the sky, are we ready to have fun, on the count of four, we are going to bounce together” and the audience willingly obliged for the entire length of “Bloodshot”. After reminiscing about playing in front of 100 people at the original House of Blue in Cambridge while touring with Something Corporate, McMahon played “Me and the Moon”.

Up next was one of the highlights of the evening, with a dark blue hue cast and tiny stars radiating from a disco ball across the venue, the band played the percussion heavy and crowd favorite “Dark Blue”. Following “Made For Each Other”, “Caves” and another fan favorite “The Resolutions, McMahon then asked, “Are you going to dance with me now?!?” before launching into “Bruised”, which closed out the main set.

Returning to the stage for a two song encore, McMahon chatted a bit about friends saying, “This song is about a good friend” and when an audience member cheered a bit too enthusiastically he said “It’s not the song that you think it is, so chill” before playing “Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby)”, a song written about touring the country with his piano. After thanking the audience, “Thanks for letting us live our dream on stage here”, the band closed out an absolutely amazing the show with “La La Lie”.

Jack’s Mannequin will be touring this summer in support of The Fray and are scheduled perform at the Comcast Center on June 21st. If you don’t already have your tickets, get them now. You won’t be disappointed.

Fellow Metro-West native (McMahon was born in Concord, MA) Matt Nathanson played in support of Jack’s Mannequin. Like his performance at Berklee last fall, Nathanson straddled a fine line between serious musician and stand up comic during his brief forty-five minute set. Between talking about the Yankees, Miley Cyrus, “Ice Cream”, masturbation, growing up in Lexington and covering Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl”, Nathanson was able to impress the crowd with his powerful voice, strong guitar skills (and electric guitarist Aaron Tap was also outstanding) and songwriting abilities (which ooze of sex and romance), including playing his breakthrough hit “Car Crash” (which he joked was written for Cyrus’ alter ego Hannah Montana”), “Still”, and his latest single “Come On Get Higher”. While his set was a bit short, he sounded great; the girls loved him and he did his job, warmed up the audience with a strong energetic performance.

Red hot singer/songwriter Erin McCarley opened the show with quick, but memorable set showcasing songs from her debut album Love, Save the Empty.&

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