Concert Reviews

Aimee Mann with Jonathan Coulton at the Danforth Music Hall

Photographs by Neil Van

Aimee Mann began her Danforth Music Hall show by joking that she has a lot of new songs, but that they can stand up in her “sad and depressing” canon. Mann has made a career of providing the world with songs that shine a light on what makes a heart ache. She’s good at it.

The night started off with Jonathan Coulton, a self-professed geek/middle aged man/parent, who writes quirky, often hilarious but sometimes poignant songs. Coulton quickly charmed the room with his wit and self-deprecating banter. He embraced the ironies and vagaries of living in our day and age, making art out of the mundane. Aimee Mann, who has signed Coulton to her label, came out and joined him for two songs – a treat for those who showed up to see the supporting act.

When Mann came to the stage for her set, she promised the crowd a mix of songs, old and new. Her career started in the early ‘80s, riding the tide of new wave pop with her band ‘Til Tuesday, and she has been recording steadily ever since. Her latest album, Mental Illness, was released earlier this year and Mann showcased many of her new songs for her fans.   She and her band lulled the audience into a sleepy, hypnotic state. Fortunately, she was quite funny as she told stories between songs; the breaks provided some levity, which was badly needed to keep the audience engaged. For instance, she explained how she wrote the song Goose Snow Cone, with stand-in lyrics based on internet cat pictures. She fully intending to change them at some point, but never did. She also cited break-ups and Snow White as sources of inspiration.

The encore held the treasures of the night – three of her biggest hits, starting with her cover of Harry Nilsson’s One. She then played Wise Up and an extended version of Deathly. Though all the individual elements of the night’s performance were solid, some intangible magic was somehow missing from the show. Mann’s voice and delivery of the tunes were good, but overall the show suffered from epic sameness. Too bad, because even sad and depressing songs should still be dynamic and entertaining.

About author

From folk to pop to punk, Neloufer believes that music matters; that it is almost as vital as oxygen. She also has a deep love of language, et voilà! - music reviewer.