Not that Mann completely ignored her rich back-catalogue. Even if she tried, the overwhelming requests being shouted from the audience between each song would've kept her from even attempting such a thing. Toward the end of the night, the crowd had devolved to a shouting, record-geek version of catcalls: "Freeway!" "Ghost World!" "Red Vines!"
Less than wanting to hear familiar radio hits, fans of Aimee Mann like to hear specific songs because of the personal resonance they carry. You can't be a fan of any Mann album without the music having imprinted itself on your memory, forever tying itself to the time and place when you first heard the song -- and inevitably playing on repeat for days at a stretch.
Opening with three tracks from Charmer ("Disappeared," "Gumby," "Labrador"), Mann delivered her new songs with characteristic understatement, her face at times resembling a lip synching mannequin, defying logic as she projected volume while hardly opening her mouth.
Her backing band was tight and colorful, providing a straight foundation for older songs like "You Could Make A Killing," and bringing the synth-pop personality on indie rock tracks like "Freeway" and "Charmer," the guitar solo on that last one sounding pleasantly Frampton-esque in its overstated effects. All the while Mann lead the group along on her yellow hollowbody -- which would have looked ridiculously too large on her if she didn't carry herself with such bravado.
"Thanks for your wooh's and ow's," she said, finishing a duet of the song "Living A Lie" with Chris Porterfield of Field Report, a slot that was filled by James Mercer of the Shins on Mann's latest record. The band took a break from the stage shortly after that, leaving Mann alone with a single spotlight while she soloed the two most memorable tracks from the Magnolia soundtrack.
Throughout her performance of "Save Me," the audience knew every lyric to the self-deprecating tune. Although unlike other anthemic sing-a-longs, this crowd reverently whispered the words under their breath, becoming a child-like choir of heartbreaking fragility: "Can you save me/from the ranks of the freaks/Who suspect they could never love anyone." And the air only got thicker during the nihilistic "Wise Up," with Mann's lachrymose voice and guitar subtly complimented by a quiet piano.