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Show review: Andrew McMahon dazzles The Van Buren

Hear me out: Andrew McMahon is the little black dress of the music world. We’ve seen many iterations of him throughout the years, but he’s always been in style and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That kind of longevity is rare, especially in today’s environment where someone can rise to and fall from fame in the span of a TikTok. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the fans who showed up for the Phoenix date of the Three Pianos Tour spanned all ages starting with the elementary schoolers in the front row. 

While the sizable crowd trickled in, Zac Clark welcomed everyone like friends, as if they had stumbled upon his personal rehearsal session rather than performance. His pink piano was adorned with flowers, and a matching backdrop said, “Holy Shit!” (like the album he released this year) in beautiful cursive. It elicited smiles throughout the set, both from Clark and from the crowd, as he played both old songs and new. 

That immediate familiarity set up Annika Bennett perfectly—it was her first time in Phoenix, and she’s still getting used to touring. No matter, because she was met with warmth and appreciation for the songs off her Only Emotion EP and other picks from her growing discography. With an endearing shyness, she called for cheers for her tour mate Charlie who helped her bring the songs to life.

The newbie followed by the veteran brought everything full circle. Andrew McMahon reminded the crowd that he’s been in three bands over 16 years, and his stories between songs showcased just how full his life has been. His ties to Arizona are many, from writing “Halls” after a chaotic night at Tucson’s Congress Hotel to memories at The Underground in Mesa. “This one is dedicated to The Nile,” he began, laughing. “We carried our 500-pound piano down those decrepit ass stairs, and magically Jimmy Eat World was there to do our sound. This one’s called, ‘I Woke Up in a Car.’” 

Of course, the entire band and crew are elated to be back on the road, and McMahon took time to thank them all individually. He also thanked everyone who’s back to going to shows and making it possible for every artist to live their dreams. With an overwhelming sense of togetherness, the crowd helped the band close their set with a hopeful “Cecilia and the Satellite” that swelled with the promise of being home soon. 

Check out all the photos from the show! 

Story and photos by Taylor Knauf