Photography by Mason Standish
By Mason Standish, Staff Writer
Artist: Mayer Hawthorne
Venue: Big Night Live
When: Saturday, November 13th
Sprinkled throughout Mayer Hawthorne’s rousing two-hour set came frequent remarks about how much he had missed performing live on stage. Comments from the suave musician such as, “it’s been two years, you have no idea how much I’ve missed putting this on for you guys!” helped signify to the eager audience that Hawthorne wasn’t just going to put on a show, he was a wound-up toy ready to let loose and rock Big Night Live’s roof off.
Mayer Hawthorne’s performance can be differentiated into two separate acts, each with its own unique vibe.
ACT I: GETTING THE AUDIENCE UP AND MOVING
The first “act” had Hawthorne clad in a bomber jacket, slicked pompadour hair, black slacks, and cherry-red shades. He looked classically cool as he got the already swooning audience’s energy up with a few of his recent hits. The songs he and his backing members played maintained a super upbeat energy that reflected his 60s inspired look.
Hawthorne specializes in retro/neo-soul, a unique blend of funk, jazz, and pop music. The singer-songwriter was able to take full advantage of his music’s variety and range by leaning into each facet of the idiosyncratic genre he falls under. Opening with bodacious numbers such as “Rare Changes” and “Henny & Gingerale” had audience members gyrating their hips as they filed out of the venue’s bar and onto the showroom floor.
At certain points in the show, Hawthorne played accompanying bass. This was not only a delight to see but also elevated songs such as his 2020 radio-smash “M.O.”.
ACT II: CLOSING OUT WITH A BANG
After a quick outfit change, Mayer was back on stage and ready to close out his time with a bang. During the transition, an excellent rendition of Roy Ayer’s “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” was sung by the backing vocalists. This time he wore a spiffy navy blue suit with white-red accents and a pair of yellow specs. The fancy dress was a perfect accompaniment to the two Tuxedo covers that he led into.
The latter half proved to be a cozy companion to the fervorous beginning. Mayer strategically filled this section with more chill music. The songs silently beckoned couples young and old to dance closely on the standing room floor.
Mayer began to wrap up his set, snarkily commenting on his limited time left on stage. He quipped, “wish I could have more time with y’all, to hell with venue curfew!” right before breaking into his biggest hit to date, “The Walk.” Contrasting perfectly against the previous five to six slower tunes, the crowd’s familiarity with the song filled the concert hall with an infectiously positive attitude. The performance closed the show on a perfect note.
MAYER HAWTHORNE’S ELECTRIC ENERGY
Walking away from the venue at the end of the night, under the green glow of TD Garden, one of the biggest points of amazement I carried was at the amount of energy Hawthorne exuded on stage.
Seemingly constant spins, shifts, and sways showcased the showman’s expertise in the art of “filling the stage.” Hawthorne also kept things interesting by dipping his toes into musical prop work. A table to his right held a toy megaphone, clapper, and other gimmicky instruments which he incorporated into the set. Watching the artist have such relentless fun with their own music and engaging with playfulness on stage made it easier for the concertgoers to get groovy as well.
Mayer Hawthorne’s extremely varied, fun, and energetic time on Big Night Live’s main stage was absolutely electrifying. His stirring renditions of classic soul music placed alongside his own pop mainstays made for a time that felt just as grandiose and exciting as it did passionate and intimate. See Mayer Hawthorne on the Rare Changes tour before performances wrap up this December!
Interested in music similar to Mayer Hawthorne? Join us every night between 10 pm and 2 am for The Secret Spot. Let host D Danubian wind you up and simmer you down with a blend of R&B, Soul, and Slow Jams.
Also, be sure to check out ERS+, our new HD radio experience. Take a deep dive into R&B and Hip Hop with the legendary voices of Soul alongside new and pioneering MCs. Find ERS+: Boston’s Black Experience online at WERSPlus.Org