By- Melissa Greenberg
Andrew McMahon is a master of many things, but he is a true master of commanding an audience. I have been to many a concert in my heyday (disclaimer: I’m only 20, so my heyday has been short) but I have never seen someone grasp a room’s attention the way McMahon does.
On the 26th, Perth was lucky enough to be graced with the greatness that is Andrew McMahon and the Wildnerness. Grown up from his Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin beginnings, Andrew McMahon has matured from a poster boy for the California alternative rock, pop-punk scene to piano-pop virtuoso through this new venture as frontman and lead writer for his own band. His roots have not been forgotten, however, with the band playing a significant amount of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin material in between the songs off of his new record (self-titled Andrew McMahon and the Wildnerness) throughout the hour and a half they spent onstage––surely, every fan was pleased and left feeling satisfied that at least one of their favourite songs had been played.
I am always so surprised to see which artists from the States are able to build a fan base abroad, and Andrew McMahon was no exception. Originally scheduled to play at Amplifier, the show was eventually moved to a larger room at Capitol due to high demand. McMahon has not toured in Australia since starting his solo career with Andrew McMahon and the Wildnerness and it has been multiple years since he toured with Jack’s Mannequin. I have personally seen him perform three times in the past twelve months, so while I was excited to see him, my excitement was nothing compared to the big fans in the audience from here in Australia that had been waiting years to see him rock out on his piano in a way that only he can.
There’s something magical about watching McMahon on the keys… As an audience member, watching him pound on the piano can be a sort of an out-of-body experience. You can feel it in your bones as his fingers deftly drift across the keys and as his voice reaches for the high notes through the microphone. I was already in this state of bliss when McMahon began his song ‘Halls’. This song holds a special place in my heart as it written about his experience in my home state of Arizona, with shout-outs to certain Arizonan cities throughout the song. I screamed at the top of my lungs from my spot in the second row with the mention of each city and my hometown, to the point where McMahon pointed to me during the middle of the tune and asked why I was screaming, obviously unaware that I was from Arizona and just excited to hear him mention it. After the song was over, he began to banter with me from the stage about Arizona and I almost passed out from the amount of joy I felt in that moment. The rest of the show, I just stood and grinned up at him like an idiot, so happy to be there in that moment with so many people who love his music and feel it in their bones the same way I do. For his final song, ‘Synesthesia’, McMahon brought out a giant parachute and spread it over the heads of the entire audience before he came down under the parachute and sang and danced with everyone.
It’s rare to feel so close to a performer but McMahon makes a point of connecting with his audience and talking to show goers in between songs, which is one of my favourite parts of his concerts. He holds his fans in the palm of his hand and has figured out the perfect way to please them all, whether they be fans from the beginning of his career with Something Corporate or new listeners. Until he comes back, let’s take a moment to thank the piano-rock gods for blessing us mere music peasants with McMahon and his talent. May he return to Australia and bless us with his beautiful harmonies and catchy hooks sooner rather than later.
Photo Credit: Amps/Capitol and Melissa Greenberg