Andrew McMahon at Islington Assembly HallCultureMusicLive music
Andrew McMahon strides on stage and holds up a sign to rapturous cheers from the audience: first “Hello London”, and another “I’m Andrew”, then “This is my piano”. The Islington Assembly Hall’s slightly cramped seating is filled with a very young, very strait-laced crowd, who cheer and laugh at everything he says.
An easy, accomplished raconteur, he amuses the hall with the stories behind each song. Watch the Sky is inspired by a night on psychedelic drugs in a haunted house, ending with McMahon curled up in the foetal position until morning in the shower. If U C Jordan comes from a long-running feud with a guy named Jordan, originating over a girl in high school. Two songs were inspired by his daughter, born last year, Rainy Girl and the touching Cecilia and the Satellite. He has a real rapport with his fans; at one point he singles out someone talking on his phone in the front row, and the audience boos. Later – met with great mirth – another a fan shouts “have my babies!”; McMahon creates an inclusive, warm environment where fans can express themselves comfortably. The personal information that he reveals gives the audience a sense of him, both as a person and an artist, which may be why his fans are so, well… fanatic.
McMahon is tall, dressed casually, with only his piano and two microphones for company onstage. The lighting changes for each song, and the giant disco ball occasionally bursts into sparkles all over the hall. He has plenty of songs to choose from his many musical incarnations, including some from his solo project, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – whose self-titled debut album came out at the end of last year – and also from the bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. Most of the songs are of the same mid-tempo pace, but Canyon Moon is a little more upbeat. The crowd clap along to the chorus, as instructed, and McMahon puts this clapping to use when he sings a cappella later in the show.
At the end of the concert, McMahon speaks to the audience about his charity for young adults diagnosed with cancer, The Dear Jack Foundation, inspired by his own struggle with leukaemia in 2005. After this introduction, Swim feels quite moving. The show finishes with La La Lie, a song that owes too much to Elton John’s Rocket Man in the vocal performance. While it is not particularly musically innovative, this is certainly a night to smile at, performed by a consummate showman.
Photos: Laura Ruiz
For further information about Andrew McMahon and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Cecilia and the Satellite here: