Jack’s Mannequin - Manchester Academy 3 - 11.3.09

What makes a world class frontman?

The ability to have the crowd hanging off your every word, an infectious on-stage demeanour and just the right amount of confidence. Andrew McMahon, once of Californian pop-punk pioneers Something Corporate and now lead vocalist/pianist in Jack’s Mannequin, ticks all the boxes.

Of course, it doesn’t harm his chances that some of tonight’s Academy 3 crowd have waited the best part of a decade to see him in the flesh.  ‘I’ve waited five years to see this guy and all I got was this crappy poster’ reads one girl’s hastily assembled tribute.  McMahon makes a joke of it, but there’s a very serious reason why these are the band’s first UK dates. In 2005, shortly after the release of their first record, ‘Everything In Transit,’ the tall, inspired lead was diagnosed with leukaemia.

There is no reference tonight to that period of his life, however.  Tonight is about him loving every minute, and making sure for the 300-strong crowd that it is well and truly worth the wait. McMahon and his band could easily have sold out a room double the size of Academy 3 tonight but, such was the man’s desire to make it special, he wanted to keep things intimate.

The band arrive on stage at 8.15pm (there’s no supports on this tour – another of McMahon’s decisions in a search for a special occasion) and immediately race through the majority of their new record, ‘The Glass Passenger.’  ‘American Love’ and ‘Bloodshot’ increase the tempo, before he slows things down with the beautiful ‘Caves’ and the only Something Corporate song in the set, ‘Me and The Moon.’

The sing-alongs really begin as he explores the band’s debut – ‘The Mixed Tape’ and ‘Dark Blue’ enabling him to leave his piano stool for a moment and whip the crowd further into a frenzy. The most poignant song of the night though is 2008 single ‘The Resolution,’ a song that charts McMahon’s recovery and ability to tour once again with the joyful statement “I’m alive and I don’t need a witness to know that I survived.”

If every night on the road is like tonight, no wonder he is so thankful.

Words - Mark Orr
Pictures - www.markforrer.co.uk

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