Meet The New Aimee Mann

New look, new sound.

Addicted To Noise San Francisco correspondent Clare

Kleinedler attended Aimee Mann's performance at the San Francisco nightclub,

Slim's, the night of Tues., Feb. 20. Here is her report: "You got any tickets?"

asks one shadowy figure to another outside the small San Francisco

nightclub.

"No, man. I can't even get any!" says shadowy figure #2, the

Ticket Scalper. "Man," he continues, "You gotta see Aimee. You just gotta see

her."

No, Mr. Ticket Scalper is not talking about Aimee Spanier, ATN's

managing editor (who, by the way, is a very interesting person who has been

known to draw a crowd or two). He is talking about the other woman who spells

her name with the unconventional i-m-e-e. Ms. Aimee Mann.

Tonight's show at

Slim's is packed and there is not a single ticket left. The "Sold Out" sign on

the door teases, "What part of 'SOLD OUT' don't you understand?" Disappointed

and unamused, the ticketless hang out outside, hoping for a Grateful Dead-esque

miracle.

As I shove through the dense crowd trying to find some patch of

floor to settle into, I notice something weird. The average age of the crowd is

probably about 30-35-years-old. It's strange because Aimee Mann, for me anyway,

defined the 80's MTV thing with 'Til Tuesday, her band at the time. I remember

being in seventh grade, singin' "Voices Carry" with my school mates as we acted

out the video (actually, we thought Mann was singing "Boys So Scary," but

that's a totally different story). Our first "I am woman, hear me roar"

experience. I expected a reunion of sorts with old chums from that era.

A

few songs into her set, I get it. This is the new Aimee Mann. And she's

absolutely brilliant.

Mann has gone from totally pop to totally folk-rock.

Her songs are smooth and slow, with a bluesy undertone. Her voice is sweet but

strong, and her songwriting, as good as it was before, has definitely

improved.

Mann and her band play an incredible set, mostly doing songs from

her current album, I'm With Stupid. The more upbeat tunes like "Long

Shot" and "You Could Make A Killing" have almost a country sound to them, with

Mann strumming like crazy on her acoustic while hoppin' around the tiny stage.

What really showcases her talent are songs like "Amateur," a beautiful, loungy

melody about Mann's on again, off again relationship with writing partner Jon

Brion. Mann's vocals are incredibly tender, and her range allows her to hit the

spine-chilling lows as well as the delicate high notes.

Other highlights

include the record-company-bashing "You're With Stupid Now" and one of my

personal favorites, "Superball." The former deals with the years of struggle

Mann went through dealing with her old record company, which ultimately led to

her disappearance from the public music scene for quite some time. But judging

by the goofy antics of Mann and her band tonight, those days are far behind

her. She looked genuinely happy, performing with renewed fervor. And she looks

great. Decked out in silver jeans and a sheer white bodysuit, Mann doesn't look

a day older than she did back in her MTV diva days.

Mann even treats the

audience to a new version of "Voices Carry," which brought cheers from the

crowd (don't worry, they cheered louder for her new stuff). Mann performs the

song acoustically, slowing down the pace of the old version and adding a few

extra high-pitch howls at the end. What can I say except that it's fucking

beautiful?

The entire show, for the record, is just that. Beautiful.