“He was like a god walking amongst mere mortals. He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.” Yes this quote is describing Ron Burgundy, but Bill Lawson (narrating voice) may as well have been talking about Mayer Hawthorne’s performance at Altar Bar.
Now I had only listened to the Mayer Hawthorne via CD. That being said, I had no idea what to expect from his live show. I am not exaggerating at all when I say I was blown away by Mayer Hawthorne’s performance.
The show was packed full of energy, dancing, and even a little bit of comedy from Mr. Hawthorne himself. Hawthorne came out onto the stage like a bat out of hell. He was rocking a full suit and had dance moves that would even make Uncle Jesse (Jesse and the Rippers) jealous.
Another thing that I noticed almost right away was the quality of the Mayer Hawthorne’s backing band, “The County.” This was no ordinary backing band, they didn’t just take a back seat to Hawthorne’s vocals and simply play this music as is. Their performance included a magnitude of impromptu jams and solos (for each respected musician’s instrument) in between and during nearly every song of Mayer Hawthorne’s set.
Mayer Hawthorne didn’t just lay down the law vocally, he also played guitar for nearly half of the time too, also participating in jams with The County (which was another awesome surprise for a first time Hawthorne goer myself). Now the quality and soundness of Hawthorne’s music wasn’t the only highlight of the show. Mayer Hawthorne’s stage presence was outstanding. His performance was packed full with dancing that had the entire Altar Bar moving and grooving. It was nearly impossible not to be swaying back and forth and clapping your hands to the beat of the music.
Hawthorne also took a minute out of his set to notice the abundance of cell phones and camera’s in the crowd. Hawthorne decided to solve the “cell phone issue” himself by having both a comical and impromptu photo session for the crowd. Immediately after the “photo session,” Hawthorne stated, “Now that you all have got your pictures. Let’s keep the phones put away. Enjoy what’s in front of you. We don’t need to live through Instagram.” Hawthorne’s mini speech was met with a roaring applause and he immediately got back to business.
After playing a set full of hits including “Henny & Gingerale,” “The Stars Are Ours,” and “Her Favorite Song,” Hawthorne still had one more trick up his sleeve. After a moving cover of Nancy Wilson’s “May I Come In,” Hawthorne announced that the crowd would be a part of a music video. A circular multi camera contraption was then brought out on the stage to film. The crowd was already going crazy the entire show, but Hawthorne’s final encore was electric, not a single person was idly standing.
Mayer Hawthorne’s show was definitely one for the record books; he brought out his full bag of tricks. Before Mayer Hawthorne’s performance, I was a casual listener, now I'm a full on fan. If you are looking for a night packed full of grooving and some outstanding soul pop, go see Mayer Hawthorne!
Altar Bar Mayer Hawthorne Pittsburgh