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.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
- 4 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget