National Stadium, Dublin, 1 July 2002
If there was any justice in the world, Aimee Mann would be playing venues the size of the Point instead of the National Stadium. Nevertheless, in the last three years she's played three sold out gigs in Vicar Street and filled the Stadium last night, an indication that at last she's getting the acclaim she so richly deserves.
In a world where a million of Louis Walsh's bastard offspring have degraded the word "pop" to mean bland pap churned out by one anonymous Dawson's Creek - a - like after another, it takes someone of Aimee Mann's calibre to remind you just how gorgeous a really good pop song can be. Classic hooks, choruses that lodge in your mind after one listen, all allied with vitriolic lyrics about this thing they call "love" and it's many ups and downs: ( how many songwriters do you know who can start a song with lines like "You fucked it up / You should have quit / Till circumstances had changed a bit ); all these and more were on display in the Stadium last night.
Opening with the brilliant "Choice in the Matter", the set was a perfect mix of the best of Aimee's three solo albums - no easy feat when you consider that she's one those rare songwriters who doesn't have a weak song in her entire catalogue. The heartbreaking "4th of July" was a highlight, truly a classic song of regret and missed chances. " I Should Have Known", the opener on her first solo album "Whatever" was another brilliant moment. Three new songs confirmed that her new album, due out in August, is shaping up to be just as good as her other material.
For an encore we got an unexpected treat: someone in the audience yelled for "Voices Carry", an early '80's hit for her first band, Till Tuesday. Having seen her play live before I got the impression that she normally prefers to stick to the set she's decided on, but to the delight of the audience she gave in and delivered a beautiful acoustic version of this dark and powerful song which tackles the ugly subject of an abusive relationship but without sounding preachy or overly earnest.
Three more songs - "I've Had It", also from Whatever, "Deathly" and "Wise Up" from her last album, Bachelor No 2, and that was it - the perfect end to a perfect gig. If you were there, you know how good it was: if you weren't, please bend over, turn to a colleague, and politely ask them to please kick you very hard in the arse.
Click here for a less positive review of the same gig.
Choice in the Matter
Calling It Quits
Lost in Space
4th of July
That's Just What You Are
I Should Have Known
You Stupid Thing
I've Had It