As a newcomer to Portland, I have just begun to get accustomed to the concert life style here. In Los Angeles, people would crowd the stage and venues would be packed to the brim. It was not a friendly environment and if you got there any time after the doors opened, well to be frank, you were screwed. So when we arrived at the Roseland theatre at the starting time to find a spot in the crowd in which we could actually see the stage and weren’t being suffocated by sweaty strangers, I was thrilled!
Since it was Halloween weekend, there were quite a few people in the costume spirit, despite the rain and the cold. In fact, the opening band Lady Danville was decked out inWhere’s Waldo costumes. To my surprise, these three men were an opener that I realized I had seen before once they apologized to the crowd for being from LA. The sheer awesome harmonizing abilities that they possessed were enough to implant their sound in my brain for the rest of time. After performing an incredible beautiful cover of MGMT’s “Kids” (which sounded like an acoustic version of the Soulwax Remix), they busted out their new song “Operating” from their latest album (release date TBD). It was impossible to resist the urge to dance around. Everyone in the crowd was at least bobbing their head and there was not one face frowning at the creativity being displayed on stage. One of their final songs was a hilarious piece called “I Want You Back.” There is no way to describe the brilliance of this piece so please, I beg you, watch the video online. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMflEFxCElo
Next up, to replace the recently dismantled The Academy Is… (who many people at the concert had originally gone to see), was the ever popular Australian beauty, Lenka. While the two men that joined her on stage where quite comedic looking themselves, it was hard to keep your eyes off the five months pregnant woman in heels. Her attempts at sexy and cute dancing were tainted once she announced that she was in deed with child, but amazingly her pregnancy did not affect her vocalization whatsoever. She had a wide range and surprisingly was able to control her breathing quite well. Lenka’s songs were catchy and her lyrics had a simplistic charm. The audience was never bored with her spunky personality and clever jokes. When she began to perform her popular song “The Show,” which was featured in the recent movie Moneyball, the crowd participation was deafening. The singing along may have contributed to her saying that Portland was one of her favorite cities in the world.
Then came the moment that everyone had been waiting for – the piano was center stage, the lights were dimmed, and the musical genius himself walked on stage. Andrew McMahon and his cronies, better known as Jack’s Mannequin, awoke the crowd with the lively piano melodies, shouting and harmonizing, and of course songs that caused the entire crowd to dance. Since the tour was to debut their new CD “People and Things” – they played an ample amount of newer songs. However, Andrew wanted to make it clear that since they now had three CDs they had decided to play longer shows, “and if you don’t like it, then leave!” The threat only brought the audience closer to the stage, praying that during the few times he left the piano bench, he would touch their hands.
Jack’s Mannequin has a wide array of songs. They elected to play their biggest hits as well as some of their favorite songs. There were slower songs, songs in which Andrew elected to jump on the piano keys and dance around in an awkwardly adorable manner, a set in which the whole left side of the speaker system was blown out, and those in which the passion for music that oozed out of his performance was palpable. After debuting the so-called light show (a string of skeleton Halloween lights on the piano) he brought out the harmonizing talents of Lady Danville to assist him with “Restless Dream.” While the entire concert was powerful and inspiring, the amount of talent and soul that was placed into this one piece stood out.
For those who are unaware, Andrew McMahon suffered through Acute Lymphatic Leukemia in 2005. It is because of this chilling experience that he has a completely different view on life than most. This appreciation for life and love is present in his lyrics. One song that embodies his desire for perseverance and hope is “Swim,” which was released on the 2007 album “The Glass Passenger.” Andrew prefaced the melodic tune on Friday night with, “It is a song about hope. It helped me to get through a tough time.” As he spoke the title of the song the audience audibly melted of joy. He then proceeded to get lost in the piano’s descants and reassuring all those who had ever felt pain or doubt to, “find the horizon, I promise you it’s not as far as you think.” Andrew’s passion for music, performing, hope, and living made the concert into a powerful life changing experience that no one present will be able to forget. If you ever get the chance to witness Jack’s Mannequin in concert for yourself, do not pass up the opportunity! Any music lover can appreciate the emotion that was put into the show.