I should have twigged from the sheer volume of people, but the vast number of obvious “out-of-towners” sealed the deal – Aimee Mann was not the only musician plying her trade at the o2 on Friday night. The teeming hordes of Scissor Sisters fans made things a little more crowded than we’d have liked, but what’s a gig if you don’t seriously compromise your ribcage trying to get in and out of the venue?
Indig02 is advertised as an intimate jazz-style venue, but in reality it looks more like the set of Stars in Their Eyes. Lots of metal and twinkly lights don’t quite hide the fact that this is a fairly arbitrary space carved out of the much larger whole. I didn’t bother visiting the Dome when it was… whatever it was, but they seem to have got the right idea in cramming in three different entertainment venues and enough food and drink stops to keep the masses from rioting.
Before I get on to the delightful Ms. Mann, probably the highlight of the evening was the deliciously grown-up bar. The venue is over-18 apparently, and the absence of the screaming weans was a delicious experience. Not to mention that drinks were being sold at regular prices. Well, regular for London at least, and with a range of spirits that actually offer a choice rather than grudging acceptance, I was pleasantly surprised.
Still, it’s not about the surroundings, is it? It’s all about the music, man!
Only one support act; a blessed relief since it’s such a hit-and-miss tradition. You either end up with a polar opposite who will never reach this particular fanbase, or headliner-lite who simply leave you impatient for the real thing. We were treated to Jenny Owen Youngs, who was mostly adorable and quite taken with the collective Britishness of her audience. I think the shouts about badgers confused her though. Her own stuff was pretty enjoyable, though only one song grabbed me right away – the one built around a refrain of “What the f*ck was I thinking”. The piece de resistance though, was her cover of club classic “It’s Getting Hot In Here (So Take Off All Your Clothes)” – you haven’t lived until you’ve heard it in angsty-girl-with-guitar style, and that’s a promise.
After much faffing about, we finally got ourselves some Aimee. It’s been two years since I fell in love with her at Shepherd’s Bush (having been just flirting with a couple of her albums before that).
She seems to have grown in confidence since last I saw her, or maybe it’s the difference between playing a set of old favourites compared to the unfamiliarity factor of p!mping a new album like she was back in 2005. Her outfit was a little floatier, but she’s still tall, skinny and perfect for a mid-life crisis (to paraphrase how support act Jenny so aptly put it).
I forget that she’s been around for a while, our Aimee, much longer than my own acquaintance with her. Long enough in fact, to forget the words here and there, most spectacularly on “Momentum” and “Other End of the Telescope”. I suppose that’s all part of the magic of live music, seeing it raw and human, not just a karaoke rendition of the CDs you can listen to any old time. It was charming, and there’s a real connection moment of yelling out the words to the songs you love. On that note, you can’t please everyone unless you plan on playing your entire catalogue, but I’ve noticed at every gig I go to the audience suggestion part is always vociferous to the point of aggression. Personally, I find it rude. You can have a favourite song all you want, but don’t mar the atmosphere in often small venues by chanting that song name over and over again to the point of stupidity.
Aimee’s voice is getting smokier and sexier with age. Her own admission of lowering songs by a key give some previously girlish songs a deeper resonance and it feels like she knows her audience better, treating us to songs that have never been played live before. It’s supposed to feel that way isn’t it, a little treat just for you, and never mind the other few hundred people in the room.
I think I need more live music in my life, for sneak previews of songs like “Freeway” which bump January’s new album to the top of my list; for laughs and moments of explanation that make the crush of the tube and the tiredness all worth it. I love my slightly whiny girls with guitars and awesome tattoos, never mind the lyrics that make my head spin.