Aimee Mann, Royal Festival Hall, London
Aimee Mann may have risen to prominence thanks to her music’s key role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 masterpiece Magnolia, but the darkness of some of that film perhaps added an extra layer of melancholy to the work of an artist whose catalogue is usually a few shades lighter.
Mann, now on her eighth LP with this year’s Charmer, certainly has a natural wit and an instant rapport with the crowd in the cold environs of the Royal Festival Hall; after an indecipherable shout from the back of the room, she deadpans “I’m going to guess you shouted ‘I love you’”.
Possibly the problem with some of Mann’s work is that the songs themselves don’t quite equal the ideas surrounding them. She’s a smart, efficient lyricist, for one. Her albums are always beautiful, 2002’s Lost In Space, for instance, featured artwork by the brilliant Canadian cartoonist Seth. She even made a concept album about boxing. And above all else, Mann’s voice has a rare warming, easy-to-love quality to it. But… but sometimes her music is just a tad forgettable. The tracks from Magnolia – “Save Me” sung as a solo, the bleakly uplifting “Wise Up” and a cover of Nilsson’s “One” all reverberate with the audience, but there’s a lack of bite elsewhere.
But the Virginian – looking as sharp as an Italian tourist in an art gallery in a slim-fitting leather jacket and tall boots - makes up for any lack of swagger by being such an engaging, witty presence on stage. When she introduces “Save Me”, she explains in mock-braggadocio that “this song was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe,” and then “…I lost to Phil Collins” (for Tarzan’s “You’ll Be In My Heart”). Mann then starts the song: “Phil Collins/ Why did you take my prize?”
There’s also a fun anecdote about Mann and her bassist/producer Paul Bryan going for lunch with the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin only for him to end up pitching them an idea for musical. Certainly Mann has the chops for it – as the duet “Living A Lie”, performed here with support act Ted Leo, proves. It tells the story of a break-up using duelling two soliloquies and really just works as a piece of mini-theatrics. Perhaps teaming up with Sorkin might get her that Oscar back off Collins.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
- 4 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 5 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
Guardians Of The Galaxy, review: Marvel-lite movie feels half-hearted
Fifty Shades of Grey film stills
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss