Double Feature : Andrew McMahon

       This past weekend Andrew McMahon, well known for his work with Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate, spent a few days on a short tour across the state of Pennsylvania under his new touring persona, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. McMahon’s tour run was a continuation of a support run for his self-titled debut album, “Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness,” and while it was a short run the tour was certainly not lacking in any shape or form in terms of content.

       The Sherman Theater show on Friday night brought a crowd that nearly filled the venue to capacity with fans ranging of all ages, the sheer diversity in the crowd showcased the massive impact Andrew McMahon has had in the alternative genre.

       While being only 32, McMahon has been performing and recording for well over a decade now all the while transitioning from band to band when the timing has seemed fit. Some fans who came out solely expected to hear early tracks from his time with Something Corporate, while others came just to hear a few of their favorite tracks from his Jack’s Mannequin days, but in my opinion the majority of the crowd came out to hear what he is doing now as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness.

       As fans will know McMahon has been through a lot in his 32 years of life including a battle with cancer and, on a much more positive note, the recent birth of his daughter. The songwriting on the new album can be regarded as his best in years and as a result the album has put him back where he belongs in the alternative music genre, by that I mean he has reclaimed his rightful throne at the front of the pack.

       Having so much music to choose from certainly had to make picking the 18 song setlist for the Sherman Theater show a tough challenge, but I think fans were more than satisfied with the pacing and content of the night delivered that evening. Andrew McMahon walked out just past 9:30 and after he sat down at his piano the stage became washed in dramatic lighting to accompany the beginning notes of “All Our Lives” from the new album.

       McMahon wasn’t seated at the piano long however as he jumped up in the middle of the track, grabbing his microphone as he ran around the stage before he stepped down on to the barricade engaging the crowd early on in the night before he returned to his piano to end the song. Before he began the next song he addressed the crowd with a heartfelt thank you for coming out and packing the venue; he then went on to say that the night would mostly showcase his new material but there would be plenty for those who came to hear old tunes. Right on cue McMahon turned back to his piano and began plucking keys to form the opening chords to “Dark Blue,” which sent the crowd into a nostalgic fury as they sang along almost as loudly as he did.

       The rest of the night followed a similar pattern with McMahon jumping around from new songs like “Halls,” which was easily one of the strongest songs of the night as his vocals really shine on the chorus section,” to old ones from the very beginning like “I Woke Up In A Car.” There is no doubt that Andrew McMahon has taken care of himself over the years because his live vocals were nothing short of extraordinary. I don’t hesitate in saying that Andrew McMahon is the greatest alternative singer/song writer of my generation but I also strongly think that he can easily compete toe to toe with other great through out musical history. I would go as far to say that McMahon is on equal footing in terms of talent and contribution to the alternative scene as Morrissey, a bold statement for sure.

       That being said I had some concern that the show would play out as “an evening with” and McMahon wouldn’t leave his piano much during the night but I am happy to say I was not only proved wrong but was actually blown away with his interactivity, ambition, energy and vocal delivery of the entire show. Every detail of the show was calculated to perfection, including the double microphone set up so McMahon could face the crowd as he sang and the ever changing dramatic yet color infused lighting to go along with his performance.

       The highlights of the night ranged from new songs like “Halls: as I said noted before to “Canyon Moon,” when McMahon came to dance with the crowd as he sang and of course his high energy dancing on top of the piano during “Synesthesia” toward the end of the night. Fans weren’t afraid to sing along and they were even less afraid to dance from the first song until the very end of the encore which came nearly 80 minutes after the beginning of the show. The finale of the concert was an incredible sing along during “Cecilia and the Satellite” as McMahon thanked the crowd over and over again before walking off stage with a smile on his face leaving a smile on every fans’ face. For those who missed the show or those who want to relive the night as playlist on their iDevices the setlist is attached below :

All Our Lives
Dark Blue (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Me and the Moon (Something Corporate cover)
High Dive
Amy, I (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Holiday from Real (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Driving Through A Dream
The Resolution (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Canyon Moon
Watch the Sky (Something Corporate cover)
Rainy Girl
Rescued (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Maps For The Getaway
I Woke Up in a Car (Something Corporate cover)


La La Lie (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Cecilia and the Satellite

       The Sherman Theater show was just the first of our two days covering Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness that weekend, we were no doubt impressed by his headlining performances that evening and the fans were no doubt in agreement with us. Below is our exclusive photo gallery from Matt Christine Photography of the Sherman Theater show, read on after the gallery to see day two of our coverage of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness :
Viewing on Mobile? Click to view Gallery!

       Less than 14 hours later we, along with a packed crowd at the XFinity Live complex in Philadelphia, were standing out in the cold waiting for Andrew McMahon to take the stage at 12:15pm to kick off Radio 104.5’s Winter Jam. Though Andrew McMahon was billed on the first slot of the day there were still plenty of fans who came out many hours early just with the intentions of seeing him in the cold.

       As it would turn out McMahon would have the largest crowd of the day for his 45 minute set and playing early certainly worked in his favor as all of the later bands would suffer from technical problems with the stage and sound.

       Andrew McMahon and his supporting band came out promptly for their start time and were well dressed for the cold weather at hand, the snow/rain had let up just prior to the start of their set which was certainly a lucky break. As McMahon sat down at the piano he yelled to the shivering Philadelphia crowd that it was time to warm up and dance together as he began playing the opening notes of “Canyon Moon,” a change in the setlist from the night before at the Sherman Theater.

       Having only 45 minutes to perform meant that Andrew McMahon would have to fine tune his performance to only the crucial songs, this meant a lot less Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate material with a strong emphasis on his newer work. That being said he still worked 3 Jack’s Mannequin songs into the set much to the happiness of the crowd. Just like the night before the crowd began singing along early and maintained their energy through the set, even dancing along with McMahon when he came into the crowd during “Synesthesia.”

       The show would end just as the Sherman Theater show did the night before with McMahon standing on his piano giving the crowd a million thanks for dancing, many of the same faces he looked out onto were at the show the night before but also braved the weather to make this special outside show in Philadelphia. Just as he was the night McMahon delivered and certainly stole the show at Radio 104.5’s Winter Jam, it was a shame seeing him billed so early in the day but as I mentioned earlier he was the only artist able to make the stage and gear work for him without issue. This is both a testament to his talent as an artist as well as the team he had with him for this short tour run, much to be said for the superb audio mixing and instrument tuning because that piano sounded flawless for being out in cold 30 degree weather.

       Andrew McMahon managed to belt out 10 songs in his 45 minute time slot, all of which were on the setlist the night before but this time they were aligned in away for him to flow quickly from one to the next stopping briefly only to chat for a few seconds with the Philadelphia crowd. The setlist for the Winter Jam performance was as follows :

Canyon Moon
Dark Blue (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
High Dive
All Our Lives
The Resolution (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
I Woke Up in a Car (Something Corporate cover)
La La Lie (Jack’s Mannequin cover)
Cecilia and the Satellite

       In less than 14 hours we were a part of two fantastic shows featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Sight of Sound is excited to see what is next for him in 2015. His singles from the self-titled album are getting more and more radio air-time and there is no doubt that his next tour will be in larger venues than the ones he played on this short tour and the one prior. Whatever he does we are sure it will be great because Andrew McMahon has reached a peak with this project and it’s only the beginning of the mountain of success heading his way.

Be sure to check out our second exclusive gallery of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness below from Winter Jam 2015 from Matt Christine Photography :

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