Concert Review: Jack’s Mannequin @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON 2/26/10

I stepped away from reviewing this show immediately, due to a very negative experience with the venue itself (one that somehow, I had never attended before despite seeing hundreds of shows).  I didn’t want to allow my upset to cloud the memory of the set itself, which was, per usual, incredible.

Andrew McMahon has shown me what he’s got four times now – three times with his current band, and once with Something Corporate – and he always brings 110% to the table.  Whether he’s leading enthusiastic sing-alongs or standing on his piano, stomping the keys, his energy is why you fall for him live.  He is so full of life, a fact made more poignant by his battle through cancer to remission just prior to the release of the first Jack’s Mannequin disc, Everything In Transit.  This struggle, captured via video inadvertently as a result of his label handing him a camera to document the recording process, has recently been released as a documentary, entitled Dear Jack.

Andrew weaves beautiful metaphors through piano-laced rock, with elements of the cabaret-esque stylings of Ben Folds set to a more alternative underpinning, his voice soft and earnest on each track.  Live, he is gracious and very in tune with his audience and their experience, a hallmark of a gifted performer… in such a youthful package.  One cannot help but feel engaged, as if Andrew were telling the listener a story over a glass of wine at dinner.  It’s delicious.

Highlights of the set?  So many, truly;  Andrew has a good sense of what fans want to hear.  My only regret is that he doesn’t perform more of his Something Corporate material (Walking By, Me and the Moon or Konstantine, please!).  Kill The Messenger or Into The Airwaves would have also been awesome.  I particularly loved the ‘music box’ version of Swim, Hammers & Strings, Bruised, La La Lie, The Resolution, Dark Blue, Bloodshot and Made For Each Other (complete with sampling of With Or Without You by U2).  A well-structured set, brimming with favourites.  Definitely one of my current favourite live acts!

SETLIST:  Jack’s Mannequin @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON 2/26/10

I’m Ready
The Resolution
The Mixed Tape
Last Straw
Hammers and Strings (A Lullaby)
Holiday From Real
Miss California
Dark Blue
Diane, the Skyscraper
Made For Each Other/You Can Breathe

Swim (music box)
La La Lie

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