Jack’s Mannequin’s Hammers and Strings Tour
“On this tour we were looking to play in the smallest and most intimate venue in Boston…. And I think we found it”
To say the Paradise Rock club is a little too small for a band like Jack’s Mannequin would be quite the understatement. The band normally plays venues four to five times larger than this minuscule Boston music hall, and it was this setting, along with a great set list and strong performance from the band that would make this night special for those lucky enough to be in attendance.
While we weren’t able to catch the first act, Treaty of Paris, we were lucky enough to see FUN, the new project from former Format front man Nate Ruess. Now, if you’re not familiar with the Format and you like good music, you should become familiar with them as soon as humanly possible, because they were fantastic. You might be thinking that this paragraph contains a lot of F’s, but FUN’s set definitely deserves an A. The band, which was performing acoustic (but not solo), played two Format songs, a handful of originals, and a cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen.” The two Format songs played were “The First Single” and “She Doesn’t Get It,” both of which inspired many in the audience to sing along. The new FUN songs sounded similar to Ruess’s older work, but with such a distinct voice, it would be difficult not to. The crowd responded well to the set, often clapping along at the urging of Ruess, who said it was necessary to make up for the lack of a drummer. Based on this performance, I am already expecting quite a bit from FUN’s debut record, which is due early next year.
While FUN was a nice treat, the real stars of the show were up next, and they were Andrew McMahon and the rest of Jack’s Mannequin. Going into the night, I thought I knew what to expect. I had seen the band in August opening for Paramore, and I felt they were great live. However, I was not prepared for just how good they would be in an intimate setting like this. From the very start, the set felt different than any of my previous show experiences. While I’ve seen plenty of great bands play in very small places, this is the first one that I felt could have been occurring in my own living room. While I don’t have an older brother, and my family never had a piano, I might as well have been sitting on the couch listening to that older brother debuting his newest material and telling me all of his touring stories for good measure.
While Andrew was very talkative throughout the set and often made it a point to make eye contact with those in the audience, it was obviously the music that took center stage. McMahon commented that the band had booked such small venues so they could play their new songs before small and appreciative audiences, and that they did. The set kicked off with Crashing and Spinning, the first two tracks from The Glass Passenger. The songs inspired bobbing heads and polite applause, but it was “The Mix Tape” which finally got the crowd shouting along. The band continued to play two Glass Passenger songs and then an Everything in Transit song for most of the set. Some of the new songs, most notably “Swim” were even more impressive in this setting than they are on the CD, while others such as “Annie Get Your Telescope” seemed to temporarily dampen the energy in the room.
If you’ve ever seen Andrew McMahon perform live, you know how much he puts into each show, pounding on the keys and bouncing between his two mics. On this night he also worked in a few trips to the top of his piano and took the opportunity to interact with the crowd as much as possible, throwing paper airplanes and even jokingly (I think) chiding one fan for shouting out song requests. The highlights of the first part of the set included “Holiday From Real,” which Andrew began with just a piano melody before the entire band stepped in for the first chorus. “Bloodshot” and “Dark Blue” were also show stoppers and received huge reactions from the crowd. The band closed the set with a stirring rendition of “Caves.”
After what was a very short break, the band returned to the stage. Andrew began the encore by explaining why encores are the worst idea in rock music today, saying “even if you had been booing and throwing food, we still would have come out here and played more songs.” He then explained how a few fans he met before the show had demanded an MGMT cover, and the band granted this request, playing “Electric Feel.” The song wasn’t exactly well received by the crowd, but that was ok, because the rest of the encore surely made up for it. The band decided to play “What Gets You Off,” followed by “Cavanaugh Park,” a fan favorite from McMahon’s old band, Something Corporate. While neither song was typical encore fare, they were both great choices.
Jack’s Mannequin ended the set with two of their signature songs, current single “The Resolution,” and then Everything in Transit’s “La La Lie.” Both songs received huge reactions from the crowd, and served as the perfect culmination to a great performance. While Andrew’s sickness did not allow Jack’s Mannequin to tour in the months following the release of Everything in Transit, they are certainly taking advantage of the opportunity this time around. While it may have been tempting to play huge venues and sell as many tickets as possible, there are clear advantages to playing small clubs like this, for not only was the crowd having a great time, but it certainly seemed like the band was as well.
The Mixed Tape
Holiday From Real
Annie Use Your Telescope
Hammers and Strings
Electric Feel (MGMT cover)
What Gets You Off
La La Lie