Aimee Mann took the stage in Northampton dressed for business (with a jacket and tie) and kicked off her concert with “The Moth”, a deep cut from her new CD “Lost in Space.” A simple, warm-up kind of song, it allowed Mann the chance to stretch out her vocal chords and set the pace for her four-man backup band. “The Moth” led into the more uptempo “Calling It Quits” (an odd choice for the second song of the night) and the drumbeat quickened further with “Choice in the Matter.” Mann followed this pattern for a dozen songs or so, shifting between her new release, the popular “Bachelor #2” and her 1995 release “I’m With Stupid.” As the mostly-female crowd swayed near the stage, Mann shed her businesslike demeanor, along with her jacket, and warmed up to the crowd with little notes of thanks.
A tiny cloudburst of applause rose when Mann launched into her Academy-Award nominated song “Save Me” – clearly the one song recognized by most in the audience. A couple other songs from the Magnolia soundtrack – “Wise Up” and “Deathly” – were offered up, showcasing Mann’s silky-smooth voice edged with sharp lyrics. By the end of the set, Mann was openly chatting with the audience who, sensing a bond forming, joked back with the kind of contact more suited for a coffeehouse than a concert hall. Coming out for the first encore, she seemed genuinely surprised that everyone was on their feet and launched into an acoustic version of “Voices Carry” echoing back to her days as lead singer in the short-lived group ‘Til Tuesday. Swaying her hips behind an oversized guitar, Mann was delightful with her aw-shucks talent. She closed the show in the second encore with thanks and a promise (twice) to return. Nice.