Say what you will about Stones Throw’s throwback-to-Motown act Mayer Hawthorne, but the only cheeseball moment from the neo-soul singer came about halfway through his set when he encouraged the crowd at Fitzgerald’s to “Take out those camera phones – take the picture you’ve been wanting to take. Facebook, Instagram: Go for it – Tell the world you’re watching Mayer Hawthorne” and proceeded to ham it up with cookie-cutter lounge act poses with his band. For Mayer Hawthorne (real name Andrew Mayer Cohen), a guy who looks more investment banker than Al Green, and who for an hour and a half treated the Sunday evening crowd to a set of classic soul and late 60’s early 70’s Motown, a little bit of cheese goes a long way.
Hit the jump for the full recap.
For a guy who so perfectly nails the sounds of the Temptations, Cohen is a bit of an anachronistic sight. White, doughy, nerd glasses and a velvet suit. You’d have thought they photographed the wrong guy for all the album covers. But Cohen’s sense of soul is so fine tuned, so goddamn accurate to the real McCoy, you’d be forgiven for feeling like you’ve time traveled back 40 years into the thick of Detroit Motown.
Flanked by his own, light-up initials and a neon red broken heart, Cohen and his band The County, came out the gate, slick as their suits, ready to rock. With a tambourine in hand rattling off the beat, Cohen was one charming frontman. From guiding with his sweet falsetto, songs like “Make Her Mine,” The Walk,” and “Shiny and New” to pulling out a few surprises, a bouncing cover of Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True,” the lounge-styled arrangement of his classic “A Strange Arrangement,” and even pouring out free glasses of Hennessey during the wildly appropriate “Henny and Gingerale,” Cohen wanted you to feel right at home with him and The County. He even changed his wardrobe to accent the mood, pulling out a bright red jacket for the three-song encore.
And the crowd ate up every second of Cohen’s time onstage, singing and dancing along to every song. The Smokey Robinson-esque “I Wish It Would Rain” even came preloaded with choreographed hand gestures. Mayer Hawthorne and the County’s livelihood was unparalleled, as Cohen made note of the heat (those upstairs shows can get mighty stuffy) but powered through their set with sheer delight and charisma.
Motown soul is alive and well and sometimes found in the most unlikely of places and peoples. Lucky for us we have Mayer Hawthorne, whose authenticity and his sentimentality for that era’s sound shakes the dust of nostalgia off and serves up something so refreshing, so joyous, you’d forget it ever went away.
Make Her Mine
Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’
One Track Mind
Shiny and New
I Wish It Would Rain
You Make My Dreams Come True (Hall & Oates cover)
A Long Time
Green Eyed Love
A Strange Arrangement (lounge style)
Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out
You Called Me
Maybe So, Maybe No
Henny and Gingerale