SECTION: ARTS & LIFE; Pg. 043
LENGTH: 391 words
HEADLINE: MUSIC REVIEW; Mann handles Hub act with virtuosity; Aimee Mann and Indigenous at City Hall Plaza last night
BYLINE: By SARAH RODMAN
"I can't believe so many people are here," crowed Aimee Mann last night at City Hall Plaza.
The wryly, literate singer-songwriter surveyed the throng gathered, in the face of a threatening sky, and was clearly pleased at the rise in her stock saying, "We played here a year ago and there was one tenth of the people."
In that year the former Til' Tuesday frontman received MTV Video Music Award, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations and a heap of deserved critical praise for her songs from the soundtrack to the film "Magnolia" and her own solo album "Bachelor #2."
Backed by a marvelous quartet, it was those albums that she favored in her thoroughly pleasant 65-minute set last night.
Before playing the slow, shivery "Save Me," Mann joked that this was the song that "Hollywood decreed not as good as Phil Collins' monkey love song," in reference to her losing the Oscar to his "Tarzan" ballad. Mann's sedate ballad was an early highlight as her drummer gently swung jingle bells in one hand while tapping out a gentle beat with the other.
"How Am I Different," by turns a scathing and weary peek at her well publicized record company woes, featured a sweet melody and a liquid Beatlesque piano break. The sing song flights of "That's Just What You Are," were bolstered nicely by her guitarists raspy harmonies and "Calling it Quits" featured a woozy, theremin-spiced drum loop.
Midset Mann made a change in her setlist telling the crowd, "I'm going to play this before people start yelling for it and making me not want to play it," as she launched into her moody reworking of the Til' Tuesday hit "Voices Carry." With a hushed vocal approach and a willowy keyboard line filtering over the main guitar riff, the song was transformed into a smoky torch number.
She closed with the boppy "I Don't Think So," gracioulsy thanking the crowd for braving the little rain that did fall, cooling off the night in nice conjunction with her music.
Openers Indigenous played what seemed like an extremely lengthy set of their Stevie Ray Vaughn style blues rock. The Native American quartet are gifted players and some of the extended electric guitar solos during the jam sessions were especially accomplished. But their mild mannered stage demeanor and habit of shoegazing during the longer breaks, did little to enhance their performance.