TORONTO — Glancing at the bottle of alcohol he had just been handed, Nate Ruess of fun. exclaimed, “This isn’t going to go good!” But as the members of Jack’s Mannequin stormed the stage midway through his band’s set to wish him a happy birthday, things were in fact only getting better.
The Sing For Your Supper Tour’s opening act Vedera had gotten caught in a snowstorm on the way to the show, but fun. made up for its absence with an energy-filled set comprised of songs from their debut album Aim & Ignite. Despite its relative newness, it was received warmly by the crowd, which danced, sang and clapped along to its unique brand of musical theater-inspired pop rock.
By the time fun. made its exit, the audience had been thoroughly warmed up for the evening’s feature presentation. The second the house lights began to dim, the entire venue erupted into roaring applause. When Andrew McMahon and company walked onto the stage, the noise level of the crowd became deafening. McMahon sat down at his piano and above the racket could barely be heard playing the melody of fan favorite “I’m Ready.” Thankfully, the rest of his band had his back, quickly joining him and bringing the performance to an audible level.
The crowd never did settle down, singing along with everything it had. McMahon climbed atop his piano to conduct concertgoers through the intro of “The Mixed Tape,” who kept it up even after he jumped back down. Every voice in the house was with McMahon as he led the band through songs from full-length albums Everything in Transit and The Glass Passenger, in addition to b-sides “Last Straw” and “Diane, The Skyscraper.”
The audience still hadn’t lost even the slightest bit of enthusiasm by the time the last notes of “Made For Each Other” faded out. The crowd clapped, cheered and screamed at the top of its lungs until McMahon reemerged, this time on his own, to perform a stripped down version of his most recent single “Swim.” The entire crowd provided backing vocals, singing along with a level of volume and passion it had not previously shown.
The other band members reappeared on stage as McMahon thanked the audience once again before launching into the evening’s final song, “La La Lie.” And as everybody in the venue moved in tune to the music, it marked potential good news for independent musicians everywhere — if every band sang for its supper the way Jack’s Mannequin and fun. did, it could be the death of the starving artist cliché forever.