Concert Review: Jack’s Mannequin West Coast Winter Tour, State Theater, Detroit, MI

It was a chilly February 17 and I was standing less than a block away from one of my favorite artists in downtown Detroit.  I was about to see Jack’s Mannequin, along with Head Automatica, The Audition, and We Are The Fury…

As I stood outside in the cold, I began to notice the effects of cold weather on the human brain, as another group of kids started belting out tunes like the Spongebob Squarepants theme song.  But I didn’t really notice until, well, until I started singing along with them.

As the clock reached 4:30 (yes, the show was that early), the doors opened and they split us up by gender, presumably to move the line faster.  It worked, and I got decidedly good seats close to the balcony edge.  Although I would have preferred to be on the floor, the State Theater is small enough so that even the nosebleeds feel close to the stage.  It’s definitely one of the better venues in Detroit.

At 5:00, openers We Are The Fury began to play.  For those of you who haven’t tasted the Fury, they’ll remind you of bands like Guns and Roses or Aerosmith, only in a bad way.   A bunch of local kids from Toledo, they got noticeably angry at the audience’s lack of activity.  But I couldn’t blame the audience.

And then the Audition appeared and played a set around 30 minutes, similar to Fury.  They were the best opening band of all three, but this isn’t saying much.  Perhaps I would have appreciated them more had I heard their studio recordings, but their sound seemed all too common.

Head Automatica, the third opening band, appeared next.  I was almost as excited to see this New York band as the main act, but I was sorely disappointed.  The first half of their set was plagued with microphone problems (the lead singer had to be tipped off by a viewer on the floor that the audience couldn’t hear him), and the rest of the set was lackluster, despite their playing decent songs like “Beating Hearts Baby,” and “Lying Through Your Teeth.”

At this point in the article, you might be thinking that I had a pretty awful concert experience.  But the reason I ventured out into Detroit on a cold Saturday afternoon, Jack’s Mannequin, redeemed the first two hours of disappointing bands.

JM opened with “Holiday From Real,” using their a capella version of the song to allow the band to settle in on stage.  After that, however, it was great song after great song.  Lead singer Andrew McMahon, although normally bound to one spot on stage by his piano, maintained a decent stage presence, something for which he deserves great credit.

Jack’s Mannequin really shine as a lead act.  As openers for Panic! At The Disco (a concert which I reviewed when they stopped in Detroit last November), their set was still energetic, but  seemed overshadowed by the showmanship of Panic!.  But here, they pulled out all the stops, utilizing high-quality lighting equipment to add another dimension to their already great music.

The band didn’t just play their own songs, however.  They dug into McMahon’s Something Corporate library, playing “Punk Rock Princess” in its original form as a ballad entitled, “Heroin(e).”  They also played the classic, “She Paints Me Blue,” as well as a cover of, “S.O.S.,” including The Audition’s lead singer, Danny Stevens.

Every song was great, and it was generally a great show.  For those Jack’s fans out there who haven’t yet caught this great tour, buy your tickets now: many of the shows (including the one I attended) have been full houses, and rightly so.  It certainly is an amazing show, especially for die-hard JM fans, but if you’ve only heard a couple of songs, you won’t be disappointed either.

To take care of a bit of business, I have pictures of the concert on my cell phone, but haven’t uploaded them yet.  I plan to do so before the middle of the week.

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