In between Andrew McMahon’s solo tour and Dear Jack charity screenings, Jack’s Mannequin is performing one-off dates at various colleges across America. In late October, the band rolled into the Rutgers University gym on College Avenue in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
“Crashin'” kicked the set off right, with the band’s debut single, “The Mixed Tape”, on its tail getting the crowd involved early in the night. “Spinning” followed, and the song was noticeably stronger and fuller with the addition of guitarist Bobby Anderson providing lush vocal harmonies. In fact, the entire night was enhanced with not only Anderson but also bassist Jon Anderson providing harmonies to many of the songs.
The pop quartet stuck closely to their first (and more widely known) album, Everything in Transit, with the next five songs coming from that effort. “Holiday From Real” began with a quieter introduction, and “Kill the Messenger” was spiced up with a bit of The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”.
“Bruised” found the crowd jumping around for the first time before “La La Lie” put friends and lovers in the crowd in each others arms during a noticably extended harmonica solo. Current single “Swim” was cynically dedicated to the students working out in the pool below the gym. An abrasive and discordant introduction began “Bloodshot”, catching most of the crowd off guard during an otherwise melodious night.
Something Corporate’s “Watch the Sky” became the night’s highlight, the first time Jack’s Mannequin has performed the song in a headliner role in New Jersey. McMahon explained some of the song’s origins about it being written in Seattle, Washington, before the entire band joined in for an excellent performance of the North b-side.
“Dark Blue” received the biggest response of the evening, and “The Resolution” sounded great. The first part of the set finished with a rousing rendition of “MFEO”, including pieces of “With or Without You” (from U2’s brilliant 1987 album, The Joshua Tree) and a tremendous performance from drummer Jay McMillan. The full set:
The Mixed Tape
Holiday From Real
Kill the Messenger
La La Lie
Watch the Sky (Something Corporate cover)
Into the Airwaves
The two-song encore began with McMahon walking on stage wearing a shirt in “honor” of the Twitter trendy “balloon boy”–appropriate attire for a song entitled “Rescued”. Everything in Transit-closer “Into the Airwaves” finished the evening, a befitting end to a solid sixteen-song setlist that drew from ten of the album’s eleven tracks, likely designed to please a college crowd less familiar with The Glass Passenger. To an audience filled with fans and fratboys alike, Jack’s Mannequin put on an excellent show likely to convince the casual college student to pick up at least one of the band’s albums — fulfilling the night’s goal.
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