The story of Andrew McMahon is remarkable. It's inspiring. From the beginning performing music with a much deeper meaning than just the pop-punk sounding Something Corporate to a much brighteror darker, depending on perspectivere-invention under the alias of Jack's Mannequin to a solo release and a debut of the sophisticated and fun Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, McMahon has overcome adversity and relentlessly proved himself. As if he even had to in the first place...
McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2005 when he was 22-years-old, and underwent a stem cell transplant just as Jack's Mannequin's Everything In Transit was released. But you would never expect such a bubbly, vibrant performer to have been so drained at a time in his life. Remarkable.
McMahon's self-titled debut under the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness was released in October 2014. Still supporting the record, I had a chance to catch him cure all of our blues at Terminal 5. Walking towards the venue from the N train, I couldn't help but find myself slightly giddy to see McMahon. Something Corporate had gotten me through a lot in my younger years -- "I Want To Save You" with its extreme profundity on beauty and "Konstantine" yanking at my heart-strings after being left by the only girl I thought I could ever love (I was 14, okay? Give me a break). It isn't always the case that a front-man can extract their talents from the typically unremitting entity that is the previous group they were in. I love the solo stuff that Thom Yorke has put out, but c'mon; Radiohead. That's what McMahon has to go up against: Something Corporate andJack's Mannequin, and the numbers for both. But McMahon does this almost too easily. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness isn't what you'd expect, but it's exactly what you want.
Finally McMahon takes the stage, he walks over to his piano which had a fresh green layer of grass on top, and a little fishbowl on it as well. He and his band began with "Rainy Girl," and went right into the Jack's Mannequin frontrunner, "Dark Blue." "This vibe is incredible," McMahon said, "Thanks for coming out to the show." Alternating between pianist and lead singer, McMahon and Co. play a track from their record ("Canyon Moon,") another from Jack's Mannequin, and a Something Corporate jam which seemed to be what the whole crowd was waiting for. "Well, here I am" sings McMahon. And there he certainly was. He continued to navigate through new material from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and the extensive catalog from other projects that certainly has not been left behind. A couple nearby embraced each other (a.k.a were really going at it) for the piano ballad rendition of "Punk Rock Princess." "All Our Lives" was phenomenal in all its gripping honesty. "Every time we play New York City, you guys are fucking insane," he shouted. McMahon mentioned the Dear Jack foundation, which is a charity that helps research and funding for cancer research (https://www.dearjackfoundation.com/ if you're feeling generous). In an instance after, McMahon is asking the crowd for a helping hand to get him a jaeger shot up on stage. How do you think that played out? He got the shot.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness put on a gorgeous performance and the crowd reciprocated that energysinging along, dancing, making sure McMahon got his preferred drink. Every song played sounded just like the records. For me, a live show needs to have that musical pop. As much as a show is based off performance energy, what good is seeing a band if it sounds like some chump dumped water on the speakers and they fizzed out? McMahon effortlessly rallies the crowd with his sharp singing, while still managing to sound like Beethoven behind a piano. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but still. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is an awesome album, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is primitive pop that sounds just as evergreen and chirpy live.