A DVD/CD Treasure: Aimee Mann Live at St. Ann's Warehouse
J. Gordon
6/1/2005 9:43:25 PM

Thereís no nicer surprise than finding a treasure in the used CD bin of your favorite record store. Itís an even better surprise to discover the CD is actually a DVD with bonus CDóand you didnít even know it existed! And so goes this tale of discovery: Aimee Mann Live at St. Annís Warehouse [SuperEgo Records]. Recorded June 23, 2004 at St. Annís Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, this is the same great tour for Lost In Space we reviewed last year, with the same outstanding band behind her.

Itís so easy to go wrong with a concert DVD. First thereís the sound, which often picks up too much of the audience, doesnít get a good balance and mix, and sometimes loses the background vocals or nuances altogether. Other concert footage is dull, with one camera sitting in front of the same face, the most exciting moments in the zoom shots. The Live at St. Annís Warehouse DVDís high quality audio and video keeps things interesting, however, with camera shots from all angles of the stage and around the theater. In addition to the full live concert and a full-length CD, there are revealing and entertaining interviews with Aimee and the band, behind the scenes films, and still shots. OK, so the package is loaded with goodies. What about the show itself, you ask? Fear not. Thereís not a bad track on the DVD or the CD, and the only thing one can really complain about is Aimee Mannís wardrobe (when is she gonna lose those fat menís ties?). The sound is clear, her voice is good, and you can revel in every word of her perfect, unflowery, prose. Exceptional performances are given by all, with this group of perfectly synched, long-time friends who obviously connect off and on stage: Jebin Bruni on keyboards, Paul Bryan on bass, backing vocals and acoustic guitar, Julian Coryell on guitar, backing vocals and melodica, and the steady, tasteful drumming of John Sands.

Songs like ďWise UpĒ really show off the talent of the bandís backing vocals, with three-part harmonies so perfect itís hard to believe itís not a studio recording. They keep a lot of the fun banter, especially about Aimeeís new pastime, boxing, which is the theme of her newest CD [to be reviewed on www.nighttimes.com in the next couple weeks]. ďThis is a song about bitterness, unhappiness and dysfunction,Ē she says of one tune, ďOh, wait a minute, thatís all my songs!Ē

The concertís songs span her twenty-year career, from her first album, Whatever [DGC Records] through the big hits of the Magnolia soundtrack, to new tunes like, ďKing of the Jailhouse.Ē Interviews cover the subjects of touring, fans, songwriting, record labels, having fun, song preferences, audiences and cover songs. On the bonus CD, the 13-songs are recordings straight from the DVD concert, complete with the banter. Like all live CDs, itís not perfect, and Aimeeís voice, while strong and always on-key, is sometimes more nasal than those brilliant studio recordings. And you know what? Fans wonít care a bit. This is a DVD youíll watch again and again, and great backgrounds for parties and just hanging out. And this is a CD Aimee Mann fans will have spinning in their car 24/7. Raid your nearest record store and pick it up today.

Check out NT's review of Aimee Mann's show in St. Louis, 2002.--Ed.


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