It's no coincidence that Aimee Mann's latest album is called "Lost in Space," because when the vocalist/guitarist performs she has the vacant stare of a space cadet. However, her atmospheric songwriting proved refreshingly down-to-earth during Thursday's concert at Liberty Hall.
Mann and her five-piece band started off tentative, opening the program with the less-than-stirring cut "The Moth." But by the fourth tune, the 41-year-old musician began to loosen up. She physically (and symbolically) took off her jacket and got down to business.
The majority of her moody, melancholy material was drawn from "Lost in Space," with the acoustic-driven ballad "This is How It Goes" and the midtempo rocker "Pavlov's Bell" as standouts. However, Mann drew the biggest response when unleashing material that appeared in the 1999 film "Magnolia," including "Save Me," for which she was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar.
Interestingly, the artist completely bypassed the catalog of material from 'Til Tuesday, the Boston-based band that launched her career. When she began "throwing off the tyranny of the set list" and taking requests from the audience, shouts for 'Til Tuesday's hit single "Voices Carry" were snubbed.
"Too old," she gave as the reason.
The show's most amusing moment came when Mann stopped a song mere seconds into the intro because of the sound coming from sideman Michael Lockwood's guitar. Pronouncing the instrument "spectacularly out of tune," the singer good-naturedly called "Jason the guitar roadie" to the stage and had him take a bow.
The incident depicted the evening's only discord.