Over the years, Andrew McMahon has been a pop-punk superstar with Something Corporate, an emo-leaning alt-rocker with Jack’s Mannequin, and a new-school fun.-style popster with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. He’s never pegged himself as one thing, and Monday night (Feb. 1), he tried a couple more personas on for size.
Performing at the Billboard Lounge in Barclays Center, McMahon played a shadowy loverman on Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” and a rambling outlaw-type of The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” These two covers were the highlights of his five-song set—not because his originals fell flat, but because it was neat to watch this clean-cut 33-year-old singer and pianist apply his bouncy, Ben Folds-esque aesthetic to a pair of classic-rock favorites.
It’s actually not such a stretch. McMahon opened the show with “High Dive,” the second single from 2014’s Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness. Even with a bare-bones stage set-up that included two members of Jack’s Mannequin and one guy from McMahon’s solo band backing him on acoustic guitar and sequencers, “High Dive” had a melody reminiscent of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.”