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Aimee Mann at Burton Chace Park Marina del Rey on Saturday, August 13, 2011

Going to an Aimee Mann’s show is always part of a very intimate affair, she kept it like this over the years, intimate settings and surrounded by a few excellent musicians to fit the semi-confessional nature of her songs. She was doing a free concert at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey on Saturday night, and played a set of familiar tunes, some new ones, and surprisingly (or not) performed a lot of songs from the Magnolia’s soundtrack.

The stage was a little bit strangely arranged, as it was not possible to get close to the front of it; may be it was to accommodate a larger viewing, as these types of outdoor concerts attract a blanket-picnic-cooler-box crowd which sits down in the grass while dining, drinking, and talking. I don’t do that of course, and I found my place on the right side of the stage, the closer I could get and I listened attentively.

Like many others, I discovered Aimee Mann through Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, and the song she closed the night with, ‘Deathly’ felt so close to home at the time, that I became instantaneously interested by her peculiar and instantaneously recognizable songwriting … Anderson has even said that a female Magnolia’s character was inspired by the lines from the song: ‘Now that I've met you/would you object to/never seeing each other again’.

I hadn’t seen her for a long time, but she hasn’t changed a bit, she still shows this calm confidence on stage, physically, she still bears this tall and thin silhouette with long blonde hair, and musically she still sings these character-driven songs, with her signature soprano voice, distinct and clear, nicely modulating around the words. However, she joked about giving up to cover a certain Avril Lavigne’s song for her upcoming tour, because she couldn’t have reached the octave,… this, or the song did not appear to her that cool at all after reading the lyrics!

Beside playing a few classics from her albums ‘I’m with Stupid’, The Forgotten Arm’, and her more recent one ‘Fucking Smilers’, she played a few new ones, like ‘Gumby’, that she introduced as a song about a hoarder, inspired by the reality TV show Hoarders, admitting her unusual fascination for dysfunctional people, who are crazy or drug addicts or battling some kind of dependency, as it is easy to guess through her songwriting. She played ‘Gumby’ acoustically, confessing afterward having had some hoarding tendency herself,… ‘Thank you for being part of my therapy session’, she said smiling. But I tend to think all her songs are part of this same therapy session.

The rich studio arrangements of her music were well served by three musicians Paul Bryan on bass and harmonizing on vocals, a new drummer whose first name was Sebastian, and Jamie Edwards on keyboard, as they were staying in the background, leaving us the chance to enjoy the melancholic nature of her melodies, and understand the lyrics of her narrative songs.

As I said, she performed no less than 4 haunting songs from the Magnolia’s soundtrack, and thew were probably the highlight of the show (she must be playing at least a few of them each time she performs): ‘Save me’, ‘Wise up’, ‘Deathly’, and just before, ‘One’, a song that she ‘didn’t write but was written by Harry Nilsson’ as she said; but she made the song about loneliness hers years ago, the lyrics fitting so well with her dark and depressing universe balanced by upbeat tunes.

Setlist

Heroin
Little bombs
Looking for nothing
Going through the motions
She really wants you
Freeway
Gumby
Labrador
Today’s the day
Guys like me
Save me
Wise up
Long shot
4th of july

Encore
One
Deathly

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