MANHATTAN, NY— Aimee Mann has a knack for finding bad relationships. The singer-songwriter strummed out a string of break up songs from her new album, Charmer, and rekindled romances from earlier records in an evocative Webster Hall set.
The sold-out show heavily featured Charmer, Mann’s eighth studio album. She performed “Disappeared,” “Gumby,” “Labrador,” “Charmer,” “Slip And Roll,” “Soon Enough,” and “Living A Lie,” in which she invited opener (and #BOTH bandmate) Ted Leo to sing along. Mann explained that she wrote the song with her producer (and bassist) Paul Bryan after drinks with Aaron Sorkin, where they discussed possibly writing a musical for him.
“This was the greatest thing that never happened,” quipped Bryan.
“It got us thinking about the characters and it led us to people we’re very familiar with in our world,” said Mann. “The narcissistic climber who wants to be a star and the weird one who is underappreciated… We decided, suppose those two people were a couple and this is the song they sing together as they break up and are just saying these terrible shitty things to each other.”
In describing Charmer, Mann has explained that “charmer is just another word for narcissist,” and she ruminates about this throughout its songs, which were inspired by the “super pop” of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
In fact, Mann never misses an opportunity to muse about unrequited love. When a man shouted, “I love you, Aimee,” she replied, “Thank you, sir. As we discussed previously, the worse thing you can say to someone who says ‘I love you’ is ‘thank you.’ Next to, ‘I know.’”
Mann also performed “You Could Make A Killing,” “Lost In Space,” “That’s Just What You Are,” “Ray,” “Save Me,” “Wise Up,” “One,” “Goodbye Caroline” from Forgotten Arm, which Mann still hopes to turn into a musical, and “It’s Not Safe.” She encored with “4th Of July,” “Deathly,” and her top-10 ‘Til Tuesday hit, “Voices Carry,” where Leo rejoined her.
“I don’t usually play this song because it’s very old and frankly some of the lyrics I think are a little dumb,” said Mann about “Voices Carry.” “But look, who among us didn’t do something dumb in their 20s? I’m only doing this because I like the idea of making Ted Leo sing it with me, especially with a falsetto chorus.”
With her keen eye for crappy courtships, Mann must make folks at parties nervous. But her fans sure love hearing about the trouble she sees.