A review of her ZooTunes show on August 21, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.
By Regina Anderson
I’ve loved Aimee Mann since the minute I saw her defiantly whip off her to hat to reveal a spikey blonde hairdo amidst the prim and proper theater goers in the “Voices Carry” video. She wasn’t going to shut up or go quietly. And thank god she didn’t.
At 51, she’s still svelte, hip and rockin,’ sans the Kajagoogoo coif. She never went the Madonna route of other female performers of the ‘80s. Instead of spending her time showboating in flimsy clothing or constantly reinventing herself, she honed her songwriting craft so well, that she’s widely regarded as one of the best lyricists around.
To a sold-out crowd at the Woodland Park Zoo on a beautiful sunny Seattle evening, she was down to earth and funny. She introduced herself as “Hi, I’m the Aimee Mann portion of the Weepies concert,” referring to the opening band.
She kicked off the concert with “High on Sunday,” her trademark alto, strong and crystal clear, the backing band contributing lush harmonies on “Make a Killing,” “Looking For Nothing” and the up-tempo “Freeway.”
She then played a few songs from her upcoming album and shared how she finds song material. While she’s not known for an exceptional vocal range, where Aimee Mann shines is in her lyricism. Her songs are often vignettes about misfits, losers and the unlucky in love. “How do I put this in a polite way because there are children present? Um…I am obsessed with crazy people with problems.” She confessed that one of her favorite shows is Hoarders and it inspired her to write a song about one of the people profiled on the show, whom she lovingly named Gumby.
She also talked about a recent embarrassing moment. She was invited to play at a Joni Mitchell tribute concert at the Hollywood Bowl among a bevy of jazz heavyweights. Due to her nervousness about being the odd duck out, she said she messed up the intro to the song she was going to play and had to stop and do it over it again. Lucky for us, she decided to give it another go. Even Joni Mitchell would say she did “Free Man in Paris” proud.
Of course, no Aimee Mann concert would be complete without a few tunes from the Magnolia soundtrack. In addition to “Save Me,” perhaps the highlight of the evening was the poignant “Wise Up.” From the opening melancholic chords, it’s the kind of song that can bring a tear to your eye and a pain to your chest because the lyrics resonate with just about anyone. “It’s not going to stop, ‘til you wise up.” A hush came over the crowd, which was otherwise quite noisy due to the overabundance of young children present.
Not to leave the night on a minor note, she got the crowd on its feet with a duet with John Roderick of The Long Winters of Simon and Garfunkel’s rollicking “Keep the Customer Satisfied” followed by probably her most well-known song, a cover of the Harry Nilsson hit “One.” Folks were dancing, hips were swaying and hands were clapping. Such a suitable ending to a gorgeous evening with a gracious, talented lady.
And you have finally found it
You think one drink
Will shrink you 'til you're underground
And living down
But it's not going to stop
'Til you wise up"
Song * Wise Up
Album * Magnolia Soundtrack
Had a drink or two
We fumbled as the day grew dark
I pretended that I felt a spark
I thought my life would be different somehow
I thought my life would be
better by now...
But it's not,
and I don't know where to turn"
Song * 31 Today
Album * @#%&*! Smilers
Oh I've tried to think
How I could have made it appear
But another illlustration is wasted
'cause the results are the same
I feel like a ghost who's trying to move your hands
over some ouija board in the hopes
I can spell out my name"
Song * Invisible Ink
Album * Lost In Space