Category Archives: Concert Reviews

Excellent! Andrew McMahon at The Chicago Theatre (October 19, 2020)

Andrew McMahon loves to play live and he is so happy to be on stage again. He was last in Chicagoland for a drive-in show at Boomer’s Stadium in Schaumburg on October 2-4, 2020. He also played Chicago’s Riot Fest in 2015.

This is the Three Pianos tour where McMahon tells many of the stories behind the songs. The name of the tour is in reference to the three pianos he has toured with over his career. The one on stage tonight is the third one.

To introduce the second song, “Ohio”, he talks about how his family moved from Ohio to Southern California when he was a kid. “Everything’s going to be better on the west coast” he sings. This was a big event in his childhood.

He tells a few stories about an ex-girlfriend that he just refers to as a green-eyed girl. The songs about her are “She Paints Me Blue” and “The Mixed Tape”.

McMahon talks about connecting with his wife, Kelly, and his quest to date her. He wrote “Walking By” for her and played it for her younger sister first. Looking back, he says, this was a bit awkward. But after a few weeks, they became a couple, so it worked out.

Andrew talks about getting the amazing call from Disney and being asked to write a song for Pete’s Dragon. He collaborates with Lindsey Stirling and together they create “Something Wild”. She also played Chicago this year back in August. See our review here.

For the finale, he brings out the openers: Zac Clark, who was in Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness as the keyboard player for 10 years, and Annika Bennett, who had never toured before. Together, they all play “La La Lie” in a great happy conclusion to the night.

See the full setlist here.

Cost of a ticket: $80

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Good Jazz – Cyrille Aimee at City Winery Chicago (March 3, 2020)

Cyrille Aimee is a very talented French jazz singer. She is joined by two other fantastic musicians. Ryan Hanseler is on piano and Alex Warshawsky plays the bass. They open with a Sondheim song from Follies. She sings a lot of Sondheim songs this evening which she recorded on her 2019 album, Move On: A Sonheim Adventure. Within each song, they always add a jazzy improv jam.

They also perform a few of her original songs. They blend right in with the covers showing her songwriting talents.

For the encore, she chooses a blues song, “Loud Talkin Woman” by Helen Humes. “Loud talkin woman, why don’t you keep your man at home.” “I live up five flights of stairs, and your man loves to climb.” It’s a scintillating song and a great closer.

Cost of a ticket: $36
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney



Fantastic Set! Phillip Phillips at City Winery Chicago (January 30, 2020)

Tonight at City Winery is an intimate evening with Phillip Phillips and Errol Cooney on acoustic guitars.

Early on, he says that the song “Maneater” has a scary title, but it isn’t a scary song. So, he decided to make a scary version, which he goes on to play. It is more creepy and spooky than the original. It’s a bit unusual to have a cover so early in the set, but he makes it work.

“Home” is a crowd favorite. “Cause I’m gonna make this place your home.” The beautiful lyrics along with the great guitar playing are a great fit.

“Ramble On” by Led Zeppelin is a great choice for a cover in this set. Phillips sounds excellent playing and singing this song.

During “Unpack Your Heart”, they launch into an excellent extended jam reminiscent of a Dave Matthews Band show and the similarities don’t end there.

It was a fantastic set and everyone left with a smile on their face. He is very charming and really knows how to handle crowd. He could easily become as big as Dave Matthews and he is definitely talented enough to do it!

Cost of a ticket: $60
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It+
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Alternately Delightful and Disappointing – Mandy Patinkin at the Chicago Theatre (January 23, 2020)

It might be that you are a fan of Mandy Patinkin’s from “Homeland” or “The Princess Bride,” but chances are that if you’re buying tickets to see him in concert, you’re more concerned with his Broadway credits. But Patinkin is more than Georges Seurat, Ché and Archibald Craven. So if you were just hoping to hear his show tunes, the show will alternately delight and disappoint.


The show confuses, particularly with “From The Air,” a spoken word piece from Laurie Anderson, an avant-garde performance artist. The lights dim and Patinkin sits and delivers this piece that makes you wonder if you are at a bad college performance that you forgot to get high for. “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” is another low light.



Also bizarre is “Refugees/Song of the Titanic.” Patinkin sings beautifully in Yiddish against a backdrop of videos and photos of refugees, including footage of those who have drowned. After the song, Patinkin sings two Sondheim songs from “Company” and then the show is over. The effect is jarring.



You have witnessed something incredibly painful and are left with no context. Patinkin works with the International Rescue Committee ( to “bring global attention to the ongoing refugee crisis.” But he shares nothing of his work. There is no intro nor lead-out. And following it up with “Sorry/Grateful” and “Being Alive”? Not the right choice.



This aside, he is still Mandy Patinkin. Hearing him sing “Sunday” is alone worth the price of the ticket and “Being Alive,” though oddly placed, was magnificent. And though the song choices of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Over the Rainbow” are hokey, it’s still a joy to hear him sing them.


But still, you’ll leave the theater wondering. . . what the hell did I just see?


Edward Boyle

Excellent! Funkadesi featuring Amyna Love and Nicholas Barron at City Winery Chicago (January 2, 2020)

Funkadesi have been playing together for 23 years. They combine styles of music from all over the world including India, Nigeria, and Jamaica.

“Makhana” is one of the Indian songs they play tonight. It’s a very upbeat fun song that would fit right into a Bollywood musical. The band member from India says the chorus translates to “I love my sweet butterball!” Later in the evening, the band leader, Rahul Sharma, brings out his sitar. Along with Lloyd King on jazz flute, they wow the audience.

They cover a couple Bob Marley songs, “Stir it Up” and “No Woman, No Cry”. Valroy Dawkins sings the lead in a very raspy voice.

The band also brings out a bunch of guest artists. One of these is the daughter of the drummer, Amyna Love. Her powerful and beautiful voice combined with her excellent guitar picking makes for a great performance.

Another guest is Nicholas Barron. He tells a crazy story about squatting and busking in London It leads to him being arrested and then deported back to America. He goes on to sing “When the Fat Lady Sings” about living life to the fullest and not waiting to go after your dreams.


It was a great kickoff to the “Year of Chicago Music”.  The 3 hours just flew by. Learn more about Funkadesi here:


Cost of a ticket: $20 and up

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother


Quinn Delaney

Old Hollywood Style: Jane Lynch’s Swingin’ Little Christmas – Featuring Kate Flannery, Tim Davis & the Tony Guerrero Quintet at City Winery Chicago (December 15, 2019)

The Tony Guerrero Quintet takes the stage promptly at 8pm. They play a few jazzy Christmas songs. The trumpet player then says there was an issue with the show listings. He is James Lynch and this is Jake Flannery. What a corny dad joke, haha. The night is full of this type of light humor. Then, he brings Jane Lynch, Kate Flannery, and Tim Davis on to the stage.

They begin with a very slow song, singing acapella. Kate is looking very bored as she looks around and checks her watch. Finally, she says “Stop! I can’t take it anymore!” Then, they jump straight into “A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time”. It’s a very fun upbeat song written by Tony Guerrero and a great way to start the show.

They go on to sing most of the songs from their 2016 album, Swingin’ Little Christmas. It’s a very old Hollywood type cabaret show. It’s a rare public performance from these actors. Jane Lynch is best known for playing Sue Sylvester on Glee and is now appearing on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Kate Flannery played Meridith the Drunk on The Office and will be touring with Dancing with the Stars this winter. Lastly, Tim Davis was the vocal arranger on Glee and according to Jane, is the eye candy of the show.

After the show, they met fans in the lobby and happily posed for photos and signed merchandise.

Cost of a ticket: $60

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Warm and Cozy! Andrew Bird with Madison Cunningham at Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago (December 12, 2019)

Andrew Bird’s new Christmas album is titled HARK! Tonight, he plays “Skating”, which you may recognize from the Peanut’s Christmas album. It sounds absolutely fantastic with him on violin and Madison Cunningham on guitar. Everyone has a smile on their face.

In the middle of the set, Andrew and Madison pick up acoustic instruments and stand around a single microphone. They play “Gentle On My Mind” by Glen Campbell. It has the friends gathered around a campfire feel.

Later on, he talks about how he left Chicago 10 years ago and he feels guilty about it. A part of his heart is still in Chicago and he is happy to be back in town for 5 months shooting Season 4 of Fargo. It is a role that was made specifically for him. After this intro, he sings the excellent “Pulaski at Night”. “Come back to Chicago, city of light!” His music showcases the fantastic acoustic of this church.

This is the final night of the Gezelligheid Concerts. Gezelligheid is a Dutch word that loosely translates to “cozy”, like the Danish word hygge. The show truly is warm and cozy with the great lighting and architecture of the church. It’s no wonder this run of five shows sold out.


See the full setlist here.

Read our previous review of Madison Cunningham here.

Quinn Delaney

New Christmas Album! Los Lobos at City Winery Chicago (December 10, 2019)

Los Lobos formed in 1973 and in 2019 they are still breaking new ground. In October, this East LA band released their first Christmas album, Llegó Navidad. The first song they play from the album is “Reluciente Sol”. Then, they play “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” It’s a very fun and happy slow Christmas jam It is very different from the original, a 1958 track by Augie Rios.

They wrote an original song for this album, “Christmas and You”. It’s a romantic love song that fits right in with all the covers and sounds great.

Later on they play “It’s Christmas Time In Texas” which was originally made popular by Freddy Fender. This joyful tune features the lead singer on accordion and truly captures the Christmas spirit, Texas style.

They didn’t play “La Bamba” tonight. But, they did play it the previous day.

See the full setlist here on the new PlaylistHQ page with YouTube videos and Spotify playlists.

Cost of a ticket: $65
PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Half Price +
Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney