It’s Saturday night over at the Orange County Observatory, an exquisitely intimate venue
located on the border of Santa Ana and Costa Mesa, California. Like most shows for this local
performing arts hot spot, the house is packed, at both the main and secondary stages. But there is
something special about this particular evening and it’s obvious there is a special kind of energy in tonight’s crowd over at the main stage. Both of the opening acts, which on their own merit were spectacular, have taken their bows and were now backstage and the stage crew was now setting up for the headlining event. As one of the stage techs moved an old Baldwin grand piano, which appeared worn from use and had a “legalize marijuana” sticker slapped on it’s side into
the center of the stage, the tense anticipation began to build. The crowd began to go wild as the
lights went out and a man approached the piano in almost complete darkness. Men and women
(and even children) alike, roared with applause as Andrew McMahon, sat center stage and began
playing one of his new hit singles, “Rainy Girl”.
Rewind to a few minutes prior, armed with a press pass and some luck, I somehow found myself face to face with Andy in the private lounge above the stage. He was warm and disarmingly humble, greeting and speaking with everyone in the room one on one like they’re his closest personal friends. It’s worth noting here that he is perhaps one of the most influential performer/songwriters that has left an indelible impression on my life and simply put: the man, his music and his story has made him a hero not only to myself, but so many others. From his early days, singing about girls, life as a teenager, and touring with his high school buddies in Something Corporate, to music about his life in early adulthood (and his struggle with illness) in Jack’s Mannequin, to the present day where he writes music about the many things he has learned from his journey and about his life as a husband and father. Andrew has a habit of touching his fans lives in such a personal and truly human way, that no matter where he goes, there’s people lining up at the doors and his shows are always sold out. Perhaps it’s because he writes, composes and performs from the heart and it shows in everything he does.
As he was playing throughout some of the greatest songs in his catalog (new and old), he often took some time in between sets to address and speak with the crowd. No matter which song he was playing, you’d be hard pressed to find a person in the crowd who didn't know his lyrics by heart (and sang them out loud at the top of their lungs). Even though his instrument is the piano, it never kept him tied down to it for very long. He’d get up at the edge of the stage and reach out to people and walk from end to end, like a cat walking on a backyard fence. Before getting back to his piano to play
The night came to a close as he played one of his early classics, “La La Lie”, with all of his companions and friends onstage. In classic Andrew McMahon fashion, he ended the show with one more emotionally charged single, “Synesthesia”, before giving a final bow and farewell for the evening.
Check out more from Andrew here