I didn’t quite know what I was going to get from Monday night’s show. Billed as just “Andrew McMahon’s Three Pianos Tour”, I didn’t know if it was going to be Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Jack’s Mannequin, or Something Corporate. What I did know was it was going to be a hell of a show and I was excited.
Zac Clark was the first of the three acts to take the stage. I have had the honor of catching Zac before so I knew I was going to get an amazing opening set but I think I forgot just how much I adore everything about Zac. Emitting a constant flow of love and passion from the stage, Zac played through his opening set with a sense of fury and energy that is hard to come by when it comes to solo acts. With just his voice and a guitar, he was able to make the growing crowd feel so many things in such a short span of time and it was absolutely glorious. Beyond his anthemic piano-based tracks that kept the energy high was was the words Zac said between tracks. Sure, what he had to say was much deeper than I was expecting for a Monday night show but it also made me think and I loved that. Even with his existential way of looking at things, there was something just so warm and cozy about Zac, his voice, and his words. What I’m trying to say is that whether playing his music or talking about how weird it is that we are humans living on earth, I had my eyes glued to the stage and my ears stuck on the speakers.
Although Zac was an obvious choice as an opener for this tour as he used to be a member of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Annika Bennett was a bit less obvious of a choice. Andrew admitted later on in the night that he had found Annika online and fell in love but that was honestly quite obvious within Annika’s first couple of songs. Her voice is soft and sweet but this woman absolutely has something to say. With her heart-on-her-sleeve lyrics capturing not only my heart, but the heart of everyone else in First Avenue, Annika came off as real, beautiful, and just oh so damn sweet. Annika didn’t say that much between songs which was a huge difference compared to the other two acts of the night but, she didn’t really have to say much. Her music said all that needed to be said and her talent came through loud and clear. This is Annika’s first “real” tour but it surely won’t be her last. I expect big things from this woman and can’t wait to see where her natural talent and undeniable passion take her.
As I mentioned, I didn’t know what side of Andrew McMahon I would get on Monday night. As the tour would suggest, the stage was set up with three pianos (and a smattering of other instruments like a guitar and violin) but that still didn’t really give me a feel for what I was going to get. Honestly, I didn’t care. Having seen Andrew McMahon in all of his forms throughout the years, I knew that regardless, it was going to be an amazing and emotional night for me and the rest of the audience so I settled in and waited for the magic to happen. It didn’t take long and just before 9 PM, Andrew and two band members took the stage and jumped into a set that made my heart so warm.
Playing songs from all eras of his life, I was instantly reminded just how big of an impact this man and his iconic music has had on my life. Every track the trio played was my favorite song whether it was a Something Corporate song, a Jack’s Mannequin song, or an In The Wilderness track. Although I was a bit bummed that I wasn’t getting the rocking side of Andrew that I know and love so much, I loved the exposing nature of this stripped-back performance. I had seen this before during his show back in April of 2018 but there was something even more personal about his show on Monday night. Having taken time during the pandemic to write a book (which I may or may not be the proud owner of now so hit me up if you want to borrow or, better yet, go buy your own copy!), Andrew spent some time just discussing his life with the crowd. As much as I love his music, I think just hearing him talk like it was a storytime was the true highlight of the evening for me. Being able to hear someone whose music has meant so much to me over the years just speak from the heart for more than just a few quick words between tracks made my heart oh so very full.
Don’t get me wrong, singing along to some of my favorite tracks from all of his bands was also a highlight. From “The Astronaut” from Something Corporate to “Swim” from Jack’s Mannequin, I don’t know how he did it but Andrew truly curated the perfect playlist. He was able to give nods to those die-hards that have been there since day one while still showing love to those that may only know him from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. Regardless of what track they were playing and from what era, there were people in the crowd singing along with such a sense of passion that it was impossible to not feel at least a little bit of emotion at some point during the set. I truly can not put the amount of beauty and love I saw and felt throughout the show last night into words so I’ll just stop trying to figure out what to say. Long story short– Andrew McMahon’s set on Monday was gorgeous, emotional, and perfect and that made for a stellar Monday night concert.