Review and photos by Patrick Dunn
First Avenue Felt Like Home for Andrew McMahon, On His Three Pianos Tour
We are still very early into the return of live music and as we finally get a chance to see our favorite artists on stage in the flesh, we are also finding out details on what they chose to do while not having an option to be out on tour. Indie musician Andrew McMahon may be one of the more ambitious examples as he utilized that time to write a memoir, which has now developed into to a unique tour under the same name Three Pianos.
The shows for this tour are built around a storytelling format, which allows McMahon the freedom to share his tale to whatever degree the moment inspires. His October 18th return to First Avenue in Minneapolis ended up being a particularly special night, seemingly fueled by the famous venue’s environment that he expressed “felt like home”. In addition to feeling “safe between the speakers”, a phrase he picked up from producer Jim Wirt, he also had his wife and daughter in the room, adding to a sense that he was perfectly content and in no hurry to get through the set. While checking the box on songs that were important to the story, he switched the order up a bit compared to other nights and added in some things off-the-cuff, like launching into a few bars of “Konstantine” to satisfy a fan request.
The scaled down manner in how the music was delivered reveals the craftiness in McMahon’s writing and incorporating different instrumentation such as violin helped achieve a sort of dream state feel that nicely suits the reflective nature of this performance.
The crowd’s enthusiasm was best felt during “The Mixed Tape”, “High Dive”, “Fire Escape” and “The Revolution”, which is to say they sang along to every word.
“Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness” alum Zac Clark kicked off the evening with a solo set on piano that really allowed his strong vocal to shine. His ability to move seamlessly from head voice to falsetto was impressive.
Also opening for McMahon, touring newbie Annika Bennett showed she has what it takes to win over an audience. Her material was catchy, fueled by her angelic vocal tone.
She Paints Me Blue
The Mixed Tape
I Woke Up in a Car
There, There Katie
Maps for the Getaway
21 and Invincible
Cecilia and the Satellite
Watch the Sky
La La Lie