|Picture as seen at http://www.stonesthrow.com/mayerhawthorne|
Close your eyes for a moment and conjure up the 1970’s. The decade when men wore polyester leisure suits and women wore orange lipstick and blue eye shadow. Bell bottoms evolved into elephant bells. Heads were styled in picked-out perms and Farrah Fawcett layers. Pet rocks were en vogue. Everybody had a Venus Fly Trap. New age types gobbled up Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s transcendental meditation. Wealthy housewives took synchronized swimming classes. Avocado green appliances and faux wood paneling took homes hostage. Roller discos were filled every Saturday night. Cars were tanks. Eight-track tapes clicked midway through your favorite song. Wolfman Jack was traveling over the airwaves. Soul Train was in your living room…
It was no surprise to me that Mayer Hawthorne and The County packed the Port City Music Hall in Portland Maine on Friday night. This marked his first performance in Portland. The scene was twenty and thirty something’s dressed to the nines, wearing their dancing shoes.
Doors opened at 7:00 pm. By the time the opening act The Stepkids arrived on stage it was 9:00 pm, and fans were nearing an inebriated and delirious state. I would call The Stepkids psychedelic soul stoner music, or maybe it was just April 20th. Think, The Flaming Lips meets Saturday Night Fever. Despite significant sound problems that required constant tweaking throughout the show, they put forth a solid effort.
The sound geeks seemed to have things under control by the time Mayer Hawthorne and The County hit the stage around 10:00 pm. Mayer greeted his audience with a sheepish smile and said, “Welcome to the Mayer Hawthorne Show.” The crowd roared. The party was finally underway.
Hawthorne performed a full set of retro soul songs off of his, “How Do You Do” and, “A Strange Arrangement” albums. His ability to raise that classic 70’s soul sound has unearthed a reborn passion for the genre. The show officially clicked in awesome-gear with, “No Strings.” He began the song by stating, “Most of my songs are love songs, but this next song has nothing to do with love. This next song is strictly about sex.” The song is obviously about a guy wanting to be with a girl with no strings attached (or maybe the type of girl most men wish existed). The song was upbeat, optimistic, and cleverly arranged. It had everyone getting down and showing off their moves, myself included. Wiggle, wiggle, wink.
Once he had us warmed up, he taught us a new dance called the Errol Flynn. It was awesomely ridiculous as we grooved on it throughout the song, “A Long Time,” a fun piece about Detroit. Later on in the show he even took a photo op break and snapped a picture of the audience that he would later post on his Twitter page.
Mayer Hawthorne knows how to put on a great show, and, he knows how to party. If I had to sum up the night in one word, that word would be “fun.”
Mayer Hawthorne and The County are currently performing the US leg of their world tour, “How Do You Do,” and are gaining powerful momentum with an ever-growing fan base. Hawthorne signed with the colossal label, Universal Republic in late 2011, a deal which will catapult him to mega-star status faster than green grass through a goose.
When you close your eyes at a Mayer Hawthorne concert you are transported back in time, when American soul music was at its best. When you open your eyes at a Mayer Hawthorne concert, it’s a whole different story. I am not normally one to make generalizations about appearances; however, it’s appropriate in this case. Why may you ask? Because Mayer Hawthorne is a geek. A bona fide, wayfarer- glasses-wearing geek. Think, David Byrne circa, “Stop Making Sense Tour,” crossed with Steve Urkel. For you New Hampshire-folk, he could be one of Fritz Wetherbee’s offspring, complete with the bow tie. I bet he types in binary code and knows that Tom Baker is the only Dr. Who worth his scarf.
|Photo by Mayer Hawthorne at Port City Music Hall 4/20/12|
Visit his official website here