The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Aimee Mann (live in Tripod, Dublin)

Review Snapshot: An occasionally shambolic but enjoyable night, culminating with a great set from one of the best American songwriters in the world today.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Aimee MannThe evening started off with Los Angeles husband and wife team The Submarines, who I knew nothing about before tonight but proved to be a pleasant discovery. It wasn’t hard to see why Aimee Mann picked them to support her on her current tour, as their music is precisely the same kind of catchy melodic rock that the likes of Crowded House, Squeeze and Aimee Mann do so well. The couple, with a drummer filling out their sound, powered through a hook-laden set that impressed me enough to pick up one of their albums at the merchandise box afterwards.

Next up was Sharon Shannon’s Big Band, who lived up to their name with ten of them cramming on to Tripod’s stage. Not being a great fan of Irish trad I had planned on skipping her set, but the sheer love of music that came through from ten first rate musicians vibing off each other was impossible to resist. At one point they dragged one of their roadies on to sing a cover of the Thin Lizzy classic Dancing in the Moonlight. This probably sounded like a great old laugh backstage before the gig but was considerably less fun for the audience as the guy hadn’t a note in his head.

Inevitably, this part of the night ended with Mundy being dragged on for a spot of shameless crowd pleasing with, surprise surprise, Galway Girl. I got the impression that Mundy is already tired of this particular millstone around his neck and even the audience didn’t seem to be singing along with the type of gusto one might have expected.

And so to the headliner. I’ve long been a huge fan of Aimee Mann and her live shows are always a joy. In a similar fashion to Crowded House, she always makes a point of bantering with the audience, taking requests and peppering the set with the stories behind her songs. Tonight’s show started with a batch of songs from Smilers, her most recent album, including the single Freeway which got the first big cheer of the set. This was followed by songs from the Magnolia soundtrack, one of her most successful releases and included one of my favourite songs, Save Me. If you had to pick one song to represent Aimee Mann’s lyrical worldview, this would probably be the one, with it’s chorus of “Well, can you save me / from the ranks of the freaks / who suspect they could never love anyone?

It was at this point that people started shouting requests and Aimee duly responded, granting some and joking with the audience about not being able to remember her own songs. This part of the show can be great fun for the most part but can occasionally lead to some idiot who loves the sound of his own voice deciding to yell constantly at the band. There was one such yahoo in the audience tonight but thankfully Aimee managed to keep the show on the road diplomatically without having to tell him to shut up (the idiot in question wanted to hear It’s Not, the final song on the Lost in Space album, and got it).  A mix of old and new songs completed this part of the show, finishing with a brilliant performance of 'How am I Different'.

For the encore  we had one of the funnier moments of the night when a few people requested 'I Should Have Known', the very wonderful opening song on her debut solo album, Whatever. After a quick consultation with the rest of the band, she decided to give it a shot. All went well until the bridge, when Aimee forgot the chords. There followed several shambolic attempts to work it out until eventually they managed to finish the song. For the finale we were treated to Pavlov’s Bell, also from the Lost in Space album, and a wonderful extended version of Deathly, one of the key songs from the Magnolia soundtrack, with Aimee’s two keyboard players performing a great jam which brought the show to a satisfying close.

All told, a great night that’ll make my list when the inevitable “Best Gigs of 2008” lists are compiled.

Paul Brosnan

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2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.