While probably still best known as the vocalist and bass player for 80s band Til Tuesday, Aimee Mann has been a successful solo artist for over 25 years. As her latest record (2017’s Mental Illness) shows and NPR Music agrees (top 10 living songwriters), she is an incredible singer/songwriter. Although she’s been shoehorned into the “sad music” genre, Mann’s music is pretty wide-ranging. That being said, her latest is quite melancholy, making it one of my go to records when I’m in a late night mood. She somehow soothes the sadness with her beautiful melodies. Tonight (July 17th, 2019), she played Music Hall of Williamsburg in the midst of a short tour up and down the east coast. Great for some of her fans, one who’s on her fourth show for this tour alone!!
Opening for Mann was singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton who also collaborated with Mann on some tracks from Mental Illness. Is geek rock a thing? If so, Coulton’s your man. The first song up was “Millionaire Girlfriend” making it obvious that his songs are very much tongue in cheek, bringing a smile to some fans who had just come in out of the rain. Mann joined Coulton on stage for a few of his numbers to raucous cheers. I do have to admit it was odd seeing people bouncing, head banging and dancing to songs like “Pictures of Cats” and “Creepy Doll.” He closed out his set with “First of May” (aka f@€¥ing outside).
Mann does something unusual by opening with a cover, the Cars’ “Drive,” a song she performed for an episode of American Horror Story. Such haunting lyrics: “you can’t go on thinking nothings wrong” and a perfect start to her set. Unlike fans of younger artists, her fans mouthed the words to her songs rather than singing loudly. This allowed us to fully enjoy her voice. One song she played that wasn’t on the setlist was something she wrote for the stage adaptation of Girl Interrupted called “Suicide is Murder” (I think). She joked about their wanting something even more depressing than what she normally writes.
Aimee Mann has been closing each tour stop with a different song and tonight, she did something slightly different. For the second song of the encore, instead of “Wise Up,” she took requests and played an oldie: “Telescope.” She admittedly did not remember all the lyrics, but was a great sport. At one point, she jumped and quipped that she may have hurt herself getting up just one to two inches. I disagree. It must have been at least three or four!! Finally, Mann closed the night with “Deathly” and sent us on our merry way into the rain.
Article: Howard Shiau