Last Thursday, April 20, I attended Aimee Mann’s sold-out concert at the Lincoln Theatre to pay homage to one of my parents’ favorite singer-songwriters of the 90’s (and one of my favorite Portlandia guest stars). I arrived at the venue at around 7:15 p.m. — just 15 minutes after the doors had opened and 45 minutes before opening act Jonathan Coulton was due to take the stage — and had to scour the area for an available seat. The theater was packed with diehard fans, most of whom were my parents’ age or older. However, it didn’t take me long to realize how she had amassed this following. While Mann may have reached her peak popularity before I was even born, she certainly is not lacking for musical chops or lyrical talent in 2017.
Quirky, comedic singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton, who has collaborated with Mann on several projects over the course of her career, kicked off the show at 8 p.m. with an eight-song acoustic set interspersed with dad jokes (most of which I unashamedly laughed at). Throughout the set, he promoted his upcoming album Solid State, which is due out April 28, and he brought Mann out to accompany him on two songs off this new album mid-set. The two had undeniable chemistry as performers, as their voices mingled together beautifully and their onstage banter was both charming and incredibly entertaining.
When Mann came back onstage at 9 p.m. for her individual set, she was met with raucous applause and even gifts from fans onstage. She then went on to perform a fairly short set lasting a little over an hour and consisting of just 15 songs, including several songs off her newest release, Mental Illness, such as “Goose Snow Cone” and “Patient Zero.” My personal favorite performances were “4th of July,” which Mann opened with, “The Moth,” and “Labrador,” but her vocals were nearly flawless on every song, and the acoustic, minimalistic vibe of the show as a whole made for a very intimate listening experience. Mann also kept the mood light with her endearingly dry wit as she poked fun at the “depressing” nature of her music and at Jonathan Coulton, who returned to the stage to harmonize with her for a few songs.
Despite Mann’s often sad lyrics, I left the show feeling satisfied, relaxed, and eager to explore more of her extensive musical catalog. Her performance proved that concerts don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to be powerful or even entertaining — sometimes, all a singer needs is meaningful lyrics and a guitar. Check out Mann’s most recent album Mental Illness below:
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