Copyright 2003 The Village Voice Media

The Village Voice

January 1-7, 2003

LENGTH: 333 words
Music: The Sound of the City
"Some You Just Believe In"
Anya Kamenetz

Some You Just Believe In

It started out on a high note. A swirly, syrupy, recorded sax-and-strings intro with colored lights reminiscent of the game show set in Magnolia. A dapper band walked on. And then there she was: diffident, bemused, flipping her long blond hair over her shoulder, tallish and skinny with a red shirt and black guitar, trying to break your heart again.

Aimee Mann's show at the Beacon last month was like a date with an old crush: full of vague, sweet, unresolved feelings, but inevitably tinged with disappointment. The lush melancholy her music invokes in the privacy of your rainy-windowed bedroom was diminished in the 2800-seat theater, washed out by the starlights rotating off the disco ball. Save for a few loungey space-pop fillips by the extremely able keyboardist, her arrangements barely departed from the recordings, and the nearly uniform tempos lulled, sometimes dragged. The fucked-up sound mix didn't help, blurring her sharp-witted lyrics even as the audience mouthed along (Aimee Mann fans are too respectful to sing).

"There's lots more people here than I ought to be playing for," Mann confessed disarmingly, if correctly, a few songs in. "It's gonna be one of those nights where I start forgetting stuff and breaking strings." Sure enough, she muffed the words to her 1995 hit "Ray" even after inviting a thrilled female fan onstage to whisper them in her ear. But somehow, as the night wore on, we only felt closer. Buzzing on caffeine, Aimee riffed nervously with the audience in her low, dorky voice ("I love rock n' roll? I live rock n' roll?? I am fuckin' rock n' roll! Is that what you meant to say?"), and told how her bitter-rock-star song "You Could Make a Killing" was actually inspired by a searing crush on Noel Gallagher. By the second encore, when she got everyone to clap along to the old "I Should've Known," the whole thing was more than good enough for people like me. —Anya Kamenetz