Two years ago, the 23-year-old Andrew McMahon (lead singer of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin) received a diagnosis of leukemia. Now free of cancer, the singer-songwriter-pianist returned to the city where he’d first heard the news of his illness to perform a sold-out show with Jack’s Mannequin at Hammerstein Ballroom. An emotional McMahon spoke freely last night about the simultaneous love and fear he felt being in
The performance opened with the recorded initial verses of “
After playing a couple more songs off their album, McMahon took a few minutes to effuse to the audience about his sensations on being back in
Over the course of the evening, Jack’s Mannequin played all the songs off their album, including the Christmas-themed B-side “The Lights and Buzz,” released only on iTunes. Midway through their set, Andrew McMahon spoke proudly about his past efforts with SoCo and proceeded to play two of their songs. A special treat for fans was his performance of “Heroine,” a balladic version of the popular “Punk Rock Princess,” which he sung alone on stage. Slowed down, the song felt sadder and more honest than in the more danceable album. In telling the song’s back story, he revealed his indifference to punk, ironic given the common tendency to classify SoCo as pop punk (and a reminder to those who would quickly dismiss a band on the basis of an industry label, rather than the genuine quality of the music).
When the band returned for their encore, McMahon launched into a cover of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle,” during which he leapt jubilantly around the stage. At one point, he clambered on his piano, much to the delight of his fans, and utterly redefined the instrument’s role in a rock concert. The set ended with “MFEO – Pt. 1 (Made for Each Other)/Pt. 2 (You Can Breathe),” an 8-minute celebration of hope, love and friendship. During a long interlude, McMahon let the drummer, bassist and guitarist show off their amazing skills, then told his fans that he had bet one of the stagehands that he could crowd surf to the rear of the ballroom and then back to the stage. And then he did so, jumping into a mad crush of people who eagerly passed him amongst themselves. Even though he didn’t quite make it to the back of the room, it was an amazing moment of artist-fan contact that served as an incredibly fitting way to end the raw, soul-baring, transcendent experience that Jack’s and McMahon had shared with us all evening long.
*On a personal note, I scored a sweet Jack’s tote bag and Coz got an autographed copy of the Jack’s songbook (autographed when he bought it, we didn’t actually get to meet him, alas. But thanks to crowd-surfing, we were inches away from genius.)