Mason Jennings shows his range at Turner Hall
Mason Jennings may be from Minneapolis, but he made it clear Saturday night that he felt at home in front of a supportive Turner Hall Ballroom crowd.
Jennings performed his set with fellow Minneapolis musician Jacob Hansen (from the band Halloween, Alaska), who supported Jennings by playing bass, guitar or drums depending on the song. Over the course of the show, Jennings played songs from all of his albums ranging from his self-titled debut to last year's "Minnesota."
Jennings' forte has always been folksy acoustic guitar-driven music, but on Saturday night he played a number of songs on the piano. While Jennings sounded great on the piano, he even admitted that his Paul McCartney-esque song "Raindrops on the Kitchen Floor" sounded a bit too joyful compared to the rest of his catalog. After proclaiming his initial desire to take the song outside and shoot it, Jennings said he had come to grips that he had written such a pop-friendly tune.
While "Raindrops on the Kitchen Floor" has always existed as a piano-based song, it was very interesting to hear Jennings convert some of his older songs such as "Southern Cross" to the new platform. As good as he is on the piano, the reaction from the Turner Hall crowd was far greater when he played the guitar. The standout performance back on the guitar was the song "Crown," in which Jennings also played harmonica. He also played the longtime fan favorite "Your New Man," which he once reserved only for live shows before including it on 2008's "In The Ever."
During the performance of his song "Butterfly," Jennings stopped playing the song at the beginning of the first chorus. At first it appeared that he wanted the crowd to sing the refrain, but then it was made clear that he had momentarily forgotten the chords to this portion of the song. Looking over to Hansen for a refresher on how to play this segment, Jennings then immediately remembered how his song went and jumped back into the chorus. Surprisingly, he didn't acknowledge his brief glitch after the song was over, although he was very playful with the crowd throughout most of the evening.
The show briefly turned political when Jennings performed his song "The Field," which he said was inspired by the soldiers of both of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Performed live, the song is incredibly powerful and emotional. Toward the end of the song, Jennings repeated the line "I don't want no victory, I just want you back" in an escalating fashion concluding in a scream. While it can be tricky to incorporate something so serious into a concert, Jennings was able to do it seamlessly because of his passion. He also didn't elaborate afterward, allowing his song to do all the talking.
At the end of his set, Jennings was joined by his opening act The Pines for the last batch of songs. This included a rendition of their song "Lonesome Tremolo Blues," in which Jennings showed off his musical dexterity by playing the drums. With the full band, Jennings delivered the highlight of the night with his performance of the song "Jackson Square" from his 2006 album "Boneclouds." After leaving the stage to a standing ovation, Jennings returned and played three songs that were requests from the cluster of fans that had left the cabaret-style seating and were swarming in front of the stage.
The Pines, who Jennings declared as one of his all-time favorite bands, opened the night on a quiet note. The band performed with just a guitar, bass and keyboard, whereas on record most of their songs include drums as well. While they sounded great, their songs have a lulling, low-key energy that made their set seem longer than it was. It's easy to see why Jennings likes the band so much, but they certainly didn't kick off the night with a bang.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.