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Posted on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Mayer Hawthorne makes Michigan Theater capacity-crowd scream

By Jenn McKee

A capacity crowd filled the Michigan Theater’s 1,700 seats at around noon on Thursday to see Mayer Hawthorne’s free Sonic Lunch show (which had been moved indoors because of inclement weather); but all those seats became irrelevant once the stylish, energetic Ann Arbor native took the stage.

For the audience happily stood and shimmied and sang throughout the neo-soul singer/songwriter’s polished, hour-plus set, charmed by Mayer and his four piece back-up band, The County. Dressed in identical black and white striped shirts and white pants, the band - Joe Abrams on bass, Quentin Joseph on drums, Christian Wunderlich on guitar, and Quincy McCrary on piano - often danced in unison with Hawthorne, hinting affectionately at the golden days of Motown while also being decidedly contemporary.

Snappily dressed in white pants, a navy blue blazer (with a red handkerchief) and his signature black glasses, Mayer split the set with songs from his two albums, “A Strange Arrangement” and “How Do You Do,” kicking things off with three tunes from the latter (his newest): “You Called Me,” “A Long Time,” and “Finally Falling.”

Mayer also worked in homages to other artists and songs, deftly dovetailing his song “Dreaming” with Hall and Oates’ hit, “You Make My Dreams Come True”; and leading into “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” with Lee Dorsey’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman” and a micro-shout-out to Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That.”

“We’re so excited to be playing here at the Michigan Theater,” Hawthorne told the audience (which notably featured young kids and seniors and all ages in between). “I’m glad I didn’t have to tell you guys to stand up. … Lunchtime is party time where I come from.”

Hawthorne’s confidence and humor carried the show, as evidenced by the goofily appealing way he invited the crowd to take photos while he assumed deliberate, self-conscious poses, and then requested that all phones and cameras be put away so that audience members could just “be” at the concert.

Show highlights included the infectiously fun, “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’,” “The Walk” (Hawthorne’s biggest hit thus far) and the set’s closer, “Hooked,” which turned the Michigan Theater into a giant dance party. Finally, Hawthorne sealed up the concert with an encore performance of “Maybe So, Maybe No.” (And before Hawthorne took the stage, local band Lightning Love offered a well-received, 20 minute set.)

Schanel Moses of Detroit was among those who traveled to Ann Arbor to catch Hawthorne in concert for (what she estimates is) the seventh time. Fittingly - since she works for a social media agency - she learned about the Sonic Lunch show via Facebook.

“I’ve seen (Hawthorne) every time he’s been in Detroit,” said Moses. “I worked from (Ann Arbor) for a bit this morning so I could come to this. I never miss him.”

Here’s a quick glimpse of Hawthorne's performance:

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.


Jenn McKee

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

A correction was made to this story reflect that The County's current guitar player is named Christian Wunderlich.


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 3 a.m.

I know I've gotten old, but who the H IS HE? I still follow pop and I never heard of him!


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

OK, Lemmy, that explains it since I don't care for or follow hip hop! Sorry to be so ignorant!

Lemmy Caution

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Seriously? He's had a hit single, ubiquitous radio play, was signed to the coolest hiphop label in the world (Stones Throw) before jumping ship to sign with the monster Universal, and perhaps most importantly he's a real homegrown talent and a bit of a white neosoul sensation.

Peter Baker

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

The captions on the photos are all wrong. The article is right, HE is Mayer Hawthorne (not the signer OF Mayer Hawthorne), and the band is The County.

Julie Baker

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.

Indeed. Those captions have been corrected.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Never heard of him. So he was one of the guys from Hall and Oates? Was he Hall, or Oates?

Peter Baker

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Where on earth are you getting the idea that he's from Hall and Oates? The article says he played a song by Hall and Oates. And it's ok if you've never heard of him, but why do we need to know that?


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

Have to agree, who? I loved Hall and Oates but never heard of this guy.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Careful, sonny! My private eyes, they're watching you! They see your every move!


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Sonic Lunch is fantastic and a special part of summer in A2! Mayer Hawthorne was incredible today and the other performances have also been great. Mitch Ryder rocked it! While the artists have been outstanding, the sound systems need serious improvement. Jenn, please add the names of the other musicians to your review of MH. Thanks for including the video clips!

Jenn McKee

Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

I had some trouble tracking down the names of the musicians after the show, but I have since added them to the article. Thanks!


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Mitch Ryder's sound system was the worst!

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Great story, but those awful cutlines again. I think we knew it all happened at the Michigan Theater by the first one.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

I think Sonic Lunch is great, many thanks to The Bank of Ann Arbor for sponsoring this. Today was great, Mayer Hawthorne is a real talent. Lightning Love had an awful sound setup, the vocals were impossible to hear due to the heavy bass. Even Mayer Hawthorne's vocals were often drowned out by the bass - those not familiar with his songs had no idea what the lyrics were. These concerts would be a lot better if the bass was turned down and the vocals could be heard.

michael Limmer

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 10:50 p.m.

might be the acoustics of the Michigan. I always remember to sit just under the balcony on the main floor for best sound quality.