At 10 p.m. last Saturday night, we in the crowd at the Magic Bag in Ferndale were beginning to get anxious. Anni Rossi, the opening act, had already played, packed up and left for Chicago. In moments, Mason Jennings would take the stage.
Jennings opened with “Blood of Man,” the title track to his new album released in September 2009, which appropriately ignited the room with the dark energy and electric sound that the album explores.
The Magic Bag is a cool venue. It’s small, has plenty of places to sit or stand and has tiered levels so there’s a good view of the stage from anywhere in the room. No binoculars necessary.
Throughout the night, Jennings played songs from his earlier albums on up to Blood of Man. When he started picking the campy classic “Your New Man,” the atmosphere turned from that of a typical concert into a small-town pub where everyone’s got an arm around his neighbor, singing and sloshing to the music.
After two encores, Jennings and his band wrapped up with “Hospitals and Jails,” a romantic tune from Simple Life. It was sad to see him leave, but impossible to be disappointed with such a show.
Jennings, 34, dropped out of school when he was 16 to pursue a musical career and has released eight albums. His songs tell stories like nobody else’s, and it’s hard to believe he didn’t live the tragedies he describes with such detail.
You can listen to Jennings’ songs on his Web site. I especially recommend “Jackson Square” from Boneclouds, “How Deep Is That River?” from In The Ever and “Hospitals and Jails” from Simple Life.