By Michel Dussack
On February 8th, Andrew McMahon and the rest of Jackâ€™s Mannequin brought their â€˜People and Thingsâ€™ tour to Irving Plaza to play the first of two sold out shows. Eager fans lined up early to be close to their favorite band, and to some of them, a hero and inspiration in the form of McMahon. The line to get inside was wrapped around the corner before the doors even opened, and the venue was at Â¾ capacity before the first act even went on, quite remarkable considering the 6pm doors and 7pm start times.
After impressive sets by both Allen Stone and Jukebox The Ghost, Jackâ€™s Mannequin took the stage shortly after 9pm to play a twenty song set that clocked in just over an hour and forty five minutes. As each member walked on stage and McMahon hopped on top of his piano asking the crowd if they were â€œfucking readyâ€, they began to play a much more aggressive version of â€˜Bloodshotâ€™. Not a minute had passed before McMahon hopped off the stage to get a little closer to fans and sing to them from the photo pit not once, but twice. The show was an impressive and equal mix of all three of the bands albums, with no album getting overlooked by the band.
Itâ€™s clear that if they had wanted to, Jackâ€™s Mannequin couldâ€™ve played a much larger venue in NYC, such as Terminal 5, or even Roseland Ballroom, given how quickly both nights at Irving Plaza sold out, but as McMahon explained, theyâ€™ve got a lot of history with Irving Plaza. McMahon told the crowd how once he started to recover from his 2005 leukemia diagnosis, â€œone of the first things we did was play a show at Irving Plazaâ€. He also commented how there were a lot of rooms you can play in New York City, but nowhere that you could get as close to your fans as Irving Plaza.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Jackâ€™s Mannequin is how it initially started off as a side project to an already successful band â€˜Something Corporateâ€™, but quickly became McMahonâ€™s main focus. Indeed, at nearly every Jackâ€™s Mannequin show there is the fan who chooses to be â€˜that guyâ€™ and yell out a request for â€œKonstantineâ€, a fan favorite song from the Something Corporate days, which leads to McMahon saying that he wonâ€™t play it without the rest of â€˜Something Corporateâ€™. Interestingly enough, this was the first McMahon set Iâ€™ve EVER attended where no one yelled out for it, though someone did yell out for an undisclosed older song to which McMahon laughed and remarked â€œI just heard a guy request a song I havenâ€™t played since I was 15â€. When the crowd cheered he elaborated and told the crowd â€œDonâ€™t get excited, that means I donâ€™t know how to play it anymoreâ€.
Jackâ€™s Mannequin encompass quite a few styles throughout their three studio albums, with the first, â€œEverything In Transitâ€, taking on a much more edgy rock vibe, the second, â€œThe Glass Passengerâ€ taking on a much more mellow vibe, the result of an album about recovery, and the third â€œPeople and Thingsâ€ having a much more pop vibe, despite itâ€™s very serious lyrics. While tracks from all three albums were received well by the crowd, it was indeed the songs off â€œEverything In Transitâ€ that received the biggest reactions. Standouts from the main set included a solo version of the bands biggest hit, â€œSwimâ€, â€œThe Mixed Tapeâ€, and the anthemic sing-along â€œLa La Lieâ€.
When the band returned for their encore, they worked backwards through their catalogue, with McMahon and guitarist Bobby â€œRawâ€ Anderson coming out to play â€œRestless Dreamâ€ first. Anderson stepped off stage to allow McMahon to play the first half of â€œCavesâ€ alone, which came with the warning that because it was New York, they had to do something special and such, would play â€œCavesâ€ which hadnâ€™t been played all tour. â€œCavesâ€, the bands longest song, clocking in at seven and a half minutes, is probably the song that most perfectly encompasses Jackâ€™s Mannequin. It starts off slow with just McMahon on piano, but by the time it finishes, itâ€™s a storming rock track with lyrics about sickness and recovery. The band closed with fan favorite â€œDark Blueâ€ off their debut album, a track that everyone in the packed venue sang along with. It was indeed a perfect night with Jackâ€™s Mannequin, something thatâ€™s incredibly important given the news that McMahon is considering retiring the moniker. However, while thanking fans and his band at the end of the night, he commented that he was looking forward to playing with them for â€œmany more moonsâ€. Either way, with the future uncertain for Jackâ€™s Mannequin, every fan left Irving Plaza content with a great show from the band.
All photos courtesy of Michel Dussack