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Live Review: Andrew McMahon – The Key Club, Leeds 27/02/2015

Andrew McMahon – The Key Club, Leeds 27/2/15

Reviewed by Matt Dickinson

For a lot of people into the emo/alternative scene growing up as teenagers, then it’s pretty likely that Andrew McMahon’s music featured in some way or another, whether that’s the teen angst of Something Corporate, hitting that stage of growing up and figuring life out when Jack’s Mannequin came along, or the totally new direction of Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – focusing more around being an adult and father. Whatever stage you picked it up, it’s easy to find a connection in the heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies of his back catalogue. It’s a huge career to fit in though, and it was interesting to see how he would pull it off.

First up were a band from London called Sykes – I confess I hadn’t had chance to get into them beforehand, but it’s nice to have a new experience. They had a sound similar to bands like The XX – not something I would normally go for but they put on a good set and held the crowd’s attention before the main event!.

I’d managed to see Andrew McMahon on the acoustic stage at Slam Dunk Festival a couple of years back, and I knew this would be a treat, his one man show suits a small club perfectly. He greeted the crowd with a bunch of handwritten cards, introducing himself and his tour – one thing I’ll say (and he admitted this) is that this was a bit difficult for some of the crowd to catch as he’s not the biggest guy and he was sat at a piano, but that’s just the way the key Club is laid out. I’m not normally one for a lot of talking between songs, but Andrew is a good story teller and his humour shines through; and he clearly cares about the audience and having a connection.

As expected the set he played was a slice through the whole back catalogue. Initially kicking things off with ‘Synesthesia’ from the Pop Underground ep the crowd slowly warmed up, though there was a definite case of not knowing how loud to sing it back at this point. Things soon picked up though when it came to ‘Holiday From Real’ and ‘Watch the Sky’.

The set was a great way to introduce fans of one period to another, with each song having an introduction and there being a mixture of Songs from the Something Corporate era, such as ‘Cavanaugh Park’, ‘Me And The Moon’ (apparently written in Leeds so got a cracking reception) and ‘As You Sleep. The Jack’s Mannequin songs included ‘Dark Blue’ ‘The Resolution’ and of course ‘The Mixed Tape’. Alongside these there were songs from Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness such as ‘High Dive’,‘Rainy Girl’ and  ‘Maps for the Getaway’ .

In suitably humble fashion, Andrew dispensed of the encore and just carried on, closing out with his single ‘Cecilia And The Satellite’ then giving the crowd chance for some huge singalongs with ‘I Woke Up In A Car’ and ‘La La Lie’. Andrew McMahon is a true performer and this set showed off how his songs still have an impact on people no matter how much time has passed. If you ever get chance this is a man to see live!


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