Went to see Aimee Mann on Friday at the House of Blues. She’s promoting her new album, @#%&*! Smilers (and yes, it’s pronounced as you might expect, though she also gave an alternate pronunciation of “Effing Smilers”), which just came out last week. Of course, this meant that most of the audience either hadn’t heard the new songs, or had only heard them a few days before. Old favorites like “Save Me” tended to get cheers as soon as people recognized the intro music. With the new stuff, people were quieter, as if they were waiting to hear the song for the first time. But they all got applause in the end.

In the past, when we’ve gone to the Anaheim House of Blues, we’ve tried to eat at Downtown Disney. It always proves problematical, with restaurants either not taking reservations for parties of two or not having any reservations left. This time we just ate near home and drove up after dinner. We got there after the doors opened, but before most of the audience arrived, and managed to claim a spot dead center in the main floor, much closer than we’d ever been to this stage.

The opening act was Rebecca Pigeon. She was quite good, and a good match stylistically. (Too often, you only get one — or neither. We still joke about “Corn Mo” who opened for TMBG a few years ago.) She started with “Tough on Crime,” which Katie figures has to have a Heroes video in it somewhere. Interesting fact: it turns out she’s married to David Mamet.

By the end of the opening act, the house had filled up considerably, and was respectably packed by the time Aimee Mann took the stage. Continue reading

We drove up to UCLA last night for an Aimee Mann concert, and somehow, despite all the rain on the way up and back, we managed to not need our umbrellas at all.

The concert was great, and very different from the last concert we saw at Royce Hall just by virtue of having a full band behind her (Tori Amos performed solo last time we were there). It was also very different from the last time we saw Aimee Mann, at the House of Blues last summer. For one thing, she was focusing on songs from her new album, The Forgotten Arm.

It was also much more interactive than either of the other two concerts. What stuck in my mind was the request section. She had everything set up so that people would write the request on a piece of paper and leave it on the stage, but when she got to the break, people were shouting out titles. One guy came prepared with what looked like a balsa glider and wrote his request on that, adding that it was his birthday. I don’t remember his request, but she improvised “Happy birthday to the paper airplane man.” I’ve seen singers who get talkative, and singers who improv silly songs, but it really felt like the house was much smaller than 1800 people. (Of course, you could still make a drinking game out of the number of times she says “Thank you so much” after a song.) Continue reading