By Giles Turnbull
Two great things about the Variety Playhouse are that it’s in Little Five Points, Atlanta’s bohemian heart, and that means it’s a short stroll from the best frozen margaritas in Atlanta at the Tijuana Garage. One less great thing is that the venue can be all-seated, which raised a minor complaint from the audience towards the end, though, as Aimee Mann reasonably pointed out, her songs aren’t really the kind that demand to be danced to. The lack of dancing certainly didn’t seem to spoil the enjoyment of an attentive crowd, who filled most seats from early on.
Opening the show was Elizabeth & The Catapult, playing a selection of songs from their new album, The Other Side Of Zero, and from their well-received debut album, Taller Children. Choosing livelier tracks from The Other Side Of Zero was a wise choice, showing the band at their more characteristic, humorous best, rather than the more down-tempo sorrowful sentiments of some of the other new album tracks.
New material like “You & Me” and “Julian, Darling” sounded as bright as the fun rendition of Harry Nilsson’s “Coconut,” or the delightful title track from Taller Children, or “Race You,” selected by Google to back a recent commercial and, according to Elizabeth, helped pay the rent. The short set gave an engaging taste of what this Brooklyn band can do.
Aimee Mann hardly paused for breath, singing a good hour and a half of classic tracks from several albums, from the Magnolia soundtrack, and introducing new material which, she says, may see light of day, one day, as a Broadway musical version of her 2005 album The Forgotten Arm, telling the story of addict-boxer John and his devoted Caroline. Other highlights included a homecoming for “Little Bombs,” which was written in Atlanta, plus the ever-popular of “One Is The Loneliest Number,” the second Harry Nilsson cover of the evening, before closing out a stellar performance with the title track from her 2002 album Lost In Space.