Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Friends at The Danforth Music Hall

Photos by Taylor Luftig.

Thursday evening in the Six brought twelve hundred people together under the roof of the Danforth Music Hall to celebrate and appreciate the genius that is Andrew McMahon. For over twenty years fans from all over the globe have seen this man put his songwriting genius into multiple acts. However this tour was unlike anything we’d ever seen before at it was nothing short of pure magic.

From the moment the lights shine bright on the stage that displayed a living room set, complete with various décor that was rather comforting, you immediately felt at home. Andrew walked out with a thunderous applause leading the way that almost silenced the “Mister Rogers” theme song he had chosen for his introduction. He welcomed everyone to the neighborhood and blew the roof of the building with an acoustic rendition of “Love and Great Buildings” from his second Wilderness album “Zombies on Broadway”. This was only the beginning of magical things that were going to continue throughout the evening. 

One of the things I was most excited to see was how each one of Andrew’s friends were going to be integrated into the show. With a quick press of a doorbell and an “I wonder who that could be” and all of my questions were answered. As Zac Clark walked into the “living room” and the in the Wilderness duo was complete. 

As the duo reached the chorus of “High Dive” the doorbell began to ring yet again, providing so much humor to the evening and a bit of confusion. As Bob Oxblood (formerly of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Cooperate) comes running into the living room, he quickly picks up a guitar and the chorus of “High Dive” can now be sung to its fullest. Andrew not only took the time to welcome and thank his friends for joining him, but he also left the stage to give each artist their own time to highlight what they have been working on as solo ventures.

Toronto has had so much love for Andrew over the years, and you could feel it inside the Danforth Music Hall. No matter what song from what generation of Andrew, every single member of that audience knew every single word. He said that his goal for the evening was to bring everyone together: no matter their religion, lifestyle or political affiliation. It was such a powerful speech to introduce “Swim” which I believe is arguably one of the best Jack’s Mannequin songs.

The night kind of took a bit of a turn when a storm hit the stage, and Andrew began to hallucinate a visit from Babe Ruth (aka Allen Stone in costume). It was just another creative and extremely inventive way to introduce each one of his friends and provide humor to the show. Babe Ruth’s advice via hallucination was to play something new instead of the classics. On May 10th of this year, Andrew released a new song entitled “Ohio” that talked about his family’s journey from Ohio to California when he was a young boy. The new track follows the same suit as the Zombies on Broadway album, which gives you that indie pop sound. However, hearing it completely stripped down to my breath away. McMahon has one of the most incredible voices, and you could feel the emotion embedded in the lyrics.

The vocal introduction of Allen Stone completely blew me away, because unlike a great pocket of people I was unaware of who he was but I am sure glad I know who he is now. Together he and Andrew sang “Love Where Your At”, which brought Allen from the second level of the Danforth right to center stage. Allen has an incredibly soulful voice that left me with goose bumps. He is an incredible performer who has the ability to captivate the audience with just an acoustic guitar and a loop station, which is very reminiscent of Ed Sheeran.

As the four artists joined together on stage for an acoustic rendition of “Cecilia and the Satellite” and “Holiday For Real” the audience was left speechless. With a balance of comedy, incredible songs and sheer talent, grabbing a ticket to An Acoustic Evening with Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness and Friends was worth every penny.

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