Christmas definitely came early for those who saw Johnny Unicorn‘s set at Mac’s Bar on Friday September 3rd. Unicorn, who released Sweet Edith Manton this Summer, came to Mac’s Bar on his first national tour that started earlier this year. What the audience got were the gifts of a good time, funny moments and rocking music from Good Old Johnny Unicorn.
Accompanied only by his guitar and a programmed synth, his set started off with some improvisation, which is indicative of his progressive rock roots. He then went straight into the ballad, The River Grand. This showcased his incredible singing talent and catchy songwriting side. The melody itself as well as the knife-cuttingly high notes he hits help it stay in your head and keep you into the song. Johnny is also capable of melting faces with his rock music too. Science, a new song from Manton, was driven by his pulsating guitar lines and the build up, breakdown style of the verses. The end of the song is where the heaviness kicks in and then, it’s over in a flash. Quick and rocking, a good combination.
Going from rocking to another ballad like White Man, Red Hand may seem like a momentum killer but with Johnny, he keeps the audience in the palm of his hand. Again, his singing ability is on display and that’s what is captivating about his performance. He can substitute a rocking guitar line with his voice yet still keep the same attention of the audience. The Johnny Unicorn experience continued with yet another style change into rap music with the song Bull Crap. As I was listening, it was hard to accurately pick out what he was saying; only small words and phrases leaked out. He ran circles around me with his faster-than-a-jack-rabbit wordplay and lyricism. He also demonstrated his incredible talent to get the audience involved in the songs by getting the crowd to chant along to the chorus of “Bull Crap!”. I knew before I had ever seen him play live that he was something special, but it was this song that confirmed it.
The next song, Riverman, brought everyone back to the 1980s (even if they weren’t alive then). Marching band-esque horn synths jammed along as Unicorn sings quirky lines like “put your lips inside me for your health”. Weird Al is a stated influence of Unicorn’s and this song shows that. Aware of the Bear takes another musical turn, this time into country music. As with his rapping and ballads, he excels at this style as well. Midway through the song he got the crowd to hold a multitude of notes (none of which I can name) and the crowd did surprisingly well.
After this musical lesson from Professor Unicorn, the set ended with a song certainly befitting the month of September, I Can’t Believe It’s Christmas. Regardless of the month, the song was a great cap to the show. His set included everything from rock, rap and country to the crowd chanting along and singing. This show was probably the best, most enjoyable and engrossing show I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t had the chance to see him play, do yourself a favor and go see him. You won’t regret it.
Visit his website, johnnyunicorn.com, for the remaining tour dates on this current tour. For more Johnny Unicorn music, visit http://johnnyunicorn.bandcamp.com/ for free downloads.
The River Grand
White Man Red Hand
Aware of the Bear
A Letter from the Patriarchy
I Can’t Believe it’s Christmas