Copyright 2003 The Albuquerque Tribune

The Albuquerque Tribune

January 23, 2003

LENGTH: 522 words
The Oh-So Sensitive Swoon as Aimee Takes Deep Breaths
Shea Anderson


If Aimee Mann were in your high school, she'd be that tall, beautiful girl that all the boys were scared of.

In her concert at the KiMo Theatre on Wednesday night, Mann showed those mysterious, inscrutable qualities that draw fans to her smart, catchy pop. At once world-weary but sweet, punk but pacifying, Mann seems able to wear any hat, so long as it allows her to sing sad songs with more meaning than is immediately discernible.

If you own an Aimee Mann album, you listen to it over and over, not because the melodies are terrifically original but because her ethereal voice is wrapped around quirky lyrics that must, you swear, mean something deep.

The house was packed full of Sensitive New Age Guys and their dates, many apparently eager to hear songs from her new album, "Lost in Space." She played several from it, including "Humpty Dumpty," "Pavlov's Bell" and "This Is How it Goes."

She also pulled lots of songs off of the "Magnolia" soundtrack that brought her to play at the Oscars in 2001, perhaps the first time such brainy music was heard at that ceremony.

Whether they could or not, the ponytailed men seemed eager to understand Mann, and when she showed a little emotion (I counted about 10 smiles) they went bananas. I wondered if their girlfriends should have felt threatened by the lissome Mann, carefully put together in a body-hugging sport coat, high-collared shirt and even a tie. Even guys with dates were standing up, solo, to cheer her on.

She did play to please, even asking for requests at one point. And she split time between rockers like "Moth" and more introspective songs. When she played "Save Me," the audience swooned.

"I'll have you know, that song lost to Phil Collins at the Oscars," Mann said. When the crowd booed that balding weenie, she nodded. "Thanks, you make me feel better."

The effusive crowd had that effect much of the night. Mann all but gushed (for her) when she got standing ovations and brought her band out for two encores.

Not that Albuquerque didn't test her a little bit.

"Is it extremely dry in this town? Am I just catching onto that? I'm wondering, why am I drinking so much water?" said Mann, to the crowd's knowing chuckles.

The laughter was a little pained earlier, however, when Mann said she loved the KiMo but couldn't help but notice how her name was misspelled on the marquee. Ouch.

But that didn't stop her from playing a full, satisfying set.

I suspect many of the people at Wednesday's show were the types of people who heard Mann's songs about life's predictable chaos and thought, hey, she's writing about my life. And she's doing it without using weary clichÇs or one-liners.

Her songs aren't about one-liners. They're stories, they're allegories, and they're metaphors, sometimes all at once. Then again, isn't that what songwriting is supposed to be? Maybe we've forgotten that, which could explain the popularity of country music.

For her part, Mann doesn't seem to mind. Especially when it gets her a warm welcome in Albuquerque.