Aimee Mann: She's Found Her Space
By
J. Gordon
11/14/2002 11:58:24 AM

Sipping on peppermint tea (“a hard rockin’ drink, it’s not even caffeinated!”) in her man-ish grey vest, tie, and white shirt, Aimee Mann was all business at the Pageant in St. Louis on November 13th. Touring for her new release, Lost in Space on her own SuperEgo Records label, Mann seemed to assume the crowd wouldn’t be familiar with the new stuff and therefore only included a smattering of recent songs—particularly missed were gems such as “Guys Like Me,” “High on Sunday 51,” and the title track. That, and the fact that she eventually had to leave the stage at the end of the evening, were perhaps the only disappointments in the perfectly-executed show.

In better spirits than when she’d last played St. Louis in 1994 (it’s been an eight-year wait—back then she’d gotten angry at so many people in the audience talking) this time Mann toyed with the crowd, saying, “You’ve got a fucking cute little town! I’m so happy to get out of the strip mall world!” Mocking her own lack of radio airplay, she opened “Humpty Dumpty,” saying, “this is the single,” using her fingers as quotes around the word. She expressed her bewilderment over a rock critic’s (wrong) assumption that her music was all about her experiences with the record industry, (“in this song, I explain what it’s about when I say, “it’s all about drugs,”—referring to “This is How it Goes”), and she fooled us for a second, starting off “Sugarcoated” with that orgasmic introduction that sounds so much like Jimi Hendrix’s classic, “Foxey Lady” when it's played live.

Aimee Mann is a true professional, delivering the goods with an always-capable voice, one that is never too sweet, never too sentimental, and yet always full of the honest truth. Each song was sung and played as perfectly as her recordings—not an easy feat when so many layers and background vocals are so flawlessly mixed. Her four-piece back-up band was tight, and, like in her recordings, their male voices were the perfect complement to the balance of her sound. The night featured the best songs from Bachelor Number Two (“Red Vines,” "Calling it Quits"), the Magnolia Soundtrack (“Wise Up,” “Save Me”), going as far back as I’m With Stupid (“Choice in the Matter,” “Sugarcoated”). She closed the show with two encores ending in a version of “Deathly” so powerful and full of energy one could only pray she’d return a third time. Too bad she didn’t. Let’s hope that she won’t keep us waiting another eight years.

Read NT's review of the DVD/CD set Aimee Mann Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse--Ed.

[Photo: Rolling Stone]

 

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