Live review: Mac McCaughan played Baby’s All Right

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While Mac McCaughan‘s debut album is called, Non-Believers, he made the stage at Baby’s All Right his pulpit and very much preached to the converted on Saturday night. Mixing new tunes with discography classics and a few covers thrown in for good measure, the crowd lapped up every note.

And the Kids

I was won over by And the Kids pretty quickly. The Massachusets trio is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Hannah Mohan, whose voice belts out across the venue, it’s an impressive performance, and even more so as it comes across as if maybe she doesn’t realise just how good her voice is. The songs are catchy and there is some extra endearing quality to the band that is hard to put into words.

Flesh Wounds

Flesh Wounds played a 70s-influenced British Punk set that at times almost felt like a tribute act, as if the band could rip into a Chelsea tune at any moment. Their set gave little room to pause, when singer Montgomery Morris wasn’t hunched over the mic he was bouncing around the stage.

We’d see Flesh Wounds again pretty swiftly as they are Mac’s backing band on this tour, and that tightness helps with what must be pretty fresh material for everyone involved.

With two guitars, bass and drums, some songs need substantial reworking for the live band. Only Do  is filled with synths on the record, to pick one example. While some of the nuance is lost, it’s nice to hear the band getting creative with the melodies. With its Yoda-like chorus of there is no try, there is only do, it’s one of the many catchy hooks peppered across the album.

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Mac gave his band a rest and played about 1/3 of the set on his own, there’s an art to playing solo-electric and not everyone can do it well but he really pulls it off with aplomb. Superchunk favourites such as Driveway to Driveway get the crowd whopping and hollering with glee. Superchunk fans are nothing if not enthusiastic, and there’s definitely a lot of adulation in the room.

The rest of the band come back on stage to finish up the show, including the single from the record, Box Batteries.

Earlier in the set someone from the crowd called out for Noisy Night, and the Portastatic “cover” (it’s hard to call it a cover, given that it’s Mac’s other solo project!) duly ended the set.

An encore of covers including The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks ticks over nicely, but it’s their choice of closer that really goes down a treat, with Toy Love‘s Pull Down the Shades getting Mac amped up enough to go into the crowd and bop around. It shouldn’t be surprising to hear him cover this tune, given that Merge Records release a bunch of those classic New Zealand artists.

There’s a bit of a chaotic scrum for the merch table afterwards but I eventually leave clutching a copy of Non-Believers, and you know what, all the best music is actually made by heathens. 

Setlist

Josephine
Lost Again
Only Do
White Wave
Angels of Sleep
Come Upstairs
Driveway to Driveway
Breaking Down
Jackie
Popular Music
Home at Dawn
Detroit
Naked Pilseners
Drill Me
Box Batteries
Noisy Night
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Teenage Kicks
San Andreas
Pull Down the Shades

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