American singer songwriter Aimee Mann brought her latest tour, in support of her latest album release Mental Illness, to the National Stadium in Dublin. Mann has been involved in music since the mid 1980’s, initially as singer with ‘Til Tuesday and as a solo artist in her own right from the early 1990’s.
Her first interaction with the audience tonight was to tell them she’d be starting the set with some old slow songs as opposed to some new slow songs. There is no doubt that anyone tonight was expecting fast uplifting songs, as that is not Aimee Mann’s style. Her latest album release is called Mental Illness which maybe give us an insight into her thinking. How deep this insight is we may never know.
The opening song on the night is ‘4th of July’ taken from Mann’s debut solo album Whatever.
The opening songs on the night are just Aimee, with her ever changing acoustic guitars, and her bassist in the spotlight. In time she is joined by piano and drums and the four piece is complete. Aimee Mann’s vocals are pure and sincere and as a songwriter her work, while not attaining the deserve universal recognition, has every audience member captivated. With a definitive back catalogue of songs it surely must be difficult to bring together a set without leaving someone’s favourite out.
Indeed the album Mental Illness provides a backdrop of at least six songs in tonight’s performance. What is interesting about Aimee Mann is that it appears, inspite of her recognition as one of the finest songwriters in a generation, the adulation she receives still looks to sit a little awkwardly with her.
Her American compatriot Jonathan Coulton, who co-wrote a number of the songs on Mental Illness joined Mann on stage for a section of the show dedicated to the album. Well, that was after a few minutes of the pair trying to open a tricky water bottle. Bottle opening safely negotiated they ramble into ‘Rollercoasters’, described as John Denver without the edge. ‘Goose Snow Cone’ was inspired by a cat called Goose who was covered in snow. Songs are picked tenderly from the trials that life puts in front of people. We had a friend of Aimee’s who travelled three thousand miles to find out that ‘You Never Loved Me’.
A softening of the mood came when Aimee Mann retired behind her piano and played ‘Good For Me’ and probably her most well known song ‘Save Me’ from the soundtrack of the movie Magnolia. The night is what you would expect from an Aimee Mann show. Chilled and relaxed but ultimately a masterclass in songwriting and musicianship. It was obvious as the night wore on that Aimee became more relaxed in her surroundings, little interactions with the rest of the band that gave good reason to think they actually enjoyed playing together and being on tour, albeit she alluded to some feelings of being homesick while on previous tours.
The reality was it was one of those nights that had the audience so engrossed they forgot time and before they knew it, it was over. The evening drawing to a close with ‘Deathly’, rising to a crescendo that looked like the band didn’t want to end.
The lyrics impart ‘Now that I’ve met you, would you object to, never seeing each other again’. There is no doubting though, the wish of everyone there tonight that this is not the case.