A I M E E   M A N N

Live in Concert
with Juliana Hatfield
Northampton MA   Oct-2-02
Calvin Theatre & Performing Arts Center

NOTES: I'm putting everything on this single page. I have "good" reasons for doing this, but it does mean the page will take some time to completely download, so please be patient -- especially those of you who, like myself, are still living with dial-up modems (sigh).

This page is but a bare-bones quick visual look at this one performance. Sorry, no fancy graphics or flash animations today. Bear in mind that these photos were taken from a hundred feet away, not from the front row; and understand that the editing process and web-optimization does remove some of the quality and impact of the original files (prints).

The appealing colored stage lighting Aimee used means that colors are not necessarily "true" here. But I think the light is artistically as nice as any graphic manipulations I could have added... so I'm not going to even try. What you see is pretty much what we saw.

Finally, these are only a few of many shots I took. They are, as Ray Davies states in his lyrics to People Take Pictures of Each Other: "to prove that it really existed".
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.



FAQ Section [fine-print for geeks & such]
1- These images are files optimized for web-based viewing only. If you print them, they'll look like crap. Save your time and ink.

2- Camera info etc... there's a bit on my mini-bio page. If you're new to digital imaging, and DON'T like tech-stuff, or don't know much about photography -- you're probably better off in the dark. Otherwise, feel free to ask.

3- This page looks best with IE5+ browsers. The sad list of W3C unsupported elements by Netscape 4x and others is long. In other words, if something here formats badly... it's probably YOUR fault -- upgrade your stinkin' browser! [they're free]

4- Photos and graphics look best when you've set your display's gamma and configured your display's driver interface and resolution properly. If you've NEVER spent a half-hour setting and RE-checking this... you may slowly be going blind [& may not care anyway].

Basically this means your screen's brightness should be turned up, but not to the point where the black background isn't absolutely black. BTW: The background color inside this box is a lighter gray than the solid black outside. (but not too light)

5- This page is long for a reason. Use your scroll-wheel or down-button... [don't abuse your mouse]. Complain to your ISP if it takes forever to download. Life is full of compromises.

Now, lets get on with the show...


juliana hatfield

Juliana Hatfield was the opening act -- a nice surprise for me because she wasn't listed on the bill when the original concert was announced, but local fans said she'd been mentioned on recent radio stations. Juliana's been a fave of mine since she left the Blake Babies & went out on her own in the early 90's. Her music has a slightly more rockier/alternative style than Aimee, although she also writes many fine introspective ballads too. She played all solo electric guitar & vocal.

rock & roll

For her second song, she sang "My Sister", a '93 EP/single of hers that I still have, and still a favorite. It has all of Juliana's signature musical traits in it. Playing it stripped down, with only guitar & vocal, she did a terrific job. Her vocals have developed more range and power over the years, and this song lets her really rip. I'd only seen Juliana play "live" via a video file on her website some time ago, and her voice tonight was much less "delicate" than that performance -- vocally much stronger, yet with her unique endearing voice. Juliana played her electric guitar straight, without any major effects (that I could hear), with a great full tone, and a solid performance.

juliana hatfield

After a few songs Juliana turned around, bent over and pulled off her jacket. My first reaction was WHOA! as the lowered stage lighting made it difficult, at first, to see she actually was wearing that tank-top. She also switched to a different guitar (the one here), which had a better low end, for one song. I held myself back from yelling out "Fleur de Lys" (off her Only Everything  CD). It's hard to know if she had a solo arrangement of that song ready -- the interlocking rhythms of drums The CD & bass that drive that song along, together with the multi-tracked guitars and vocals would make it difficult to do stripped down. It's the type of song that would have benefited from Aimee's drummer and bassist coming out a little early and ending the set with a full rock-out cut or two (something her albums have in spades).
[hint... hint!]

All in all, a perfect entre for Aimee.



 
 
 
 
the view from upstairs

Aimee and her band came out very strong. This is the view from the balcony. Aimee waved to us while letting the downstairs audience know we were actually all up here.

radiant aimee ... burning bright

"The moth don't care when he sees the flame"

Opening up was a great up-tempo & rockier version of The Moth ...very solid. I DO think it would have been more dynamic a performance if Aimee had started it solo with her acoustic guitar, and then launched briskly into the up-tempo part midway through. The flame (Aimee) was bright indeed tonight for a room full of us fluttering moths.

aimee mann

After a few songs Aimee seemed to relax a bit. Her voice got a bit stronger, and she seemed to warm up to the crowd, getting downright frisky by the end.

aimee

Trivia time: Drummer John Sands reminds me a bit of British drummer John Halsey. Halsey played (among others) with the great songwriter Neil Innes, who's credited for a small bit on "It's Not Safe", the best cut on Aimee's I'M WITH STUPID album.



aimee x3


 
 
 

aimee on bass

Aimee took off her now well-traveled jacket and switched to bass for a bit, and the mix sounded a bit smoother. If there was one disappointment for me, it was...

...the poor audio mix for the hall. It wasn't that bad, but it left much room for improvement. I'm not sure of the exact reasons, but the bass guitar was mixed poorly [why not go with a tried and true Dual Showman type of set-up of decades past?] nice guitar AimeeAlso, the vocals were missing some of the upper midrange because the hall's sound system didn't have suitable drivers (?) for this range. Whatever the reasons, it sounded as if the bass was mixed too high and blurring the vocals; and it's working "range" was rather limited because it wasn't equalized well for the hall. The end effect was like trying to look at a beautiful view through a smudged window. The keyboards were also too down in the mix. The whole mix of hall + band equipment needed some better synergy... and that's as much an art as the music part. My guess is that the limited time to set-up, and difficulty integrating the equipment with different halls was part of the reason for this.

Another complaint is that not enough song-dynamics were produced until the very end of the show. Additional effort could be put into re-arranging some of the songs differently for a live production, the same way considerable planning goes into production details and minutia in the studio. Such attention could have made this truly spectacular.

Aimee's vocals and lyrics are the heart of her songs, and the audience should be able to hear them with an intimacy and crystal-clarity as if she was whispering in your ear. Such was not the case as audience newcomers were, at times, wondering exactly what the lyrics were. It is possible to make a big improvement here. Just one possibility is Sennheiser's cutting edge microphone technology that's being used by many bands in more intimate venues like the one here. I recently listened to the new 4-CD box set from Jellyfish.... some of their live recordings, despite being a decade old now, show just how clearly a talented band can sound from an audio perspective.

ballad

Would have loved to hear more songs like this, with a quieter acoustic arrangement and production-mix. Acoustic dynamics are the heart of any great sound experience.

aimee mann & john sands

Somewhere halfway through the performance I managed to get a nice fingerprint onto my lens... a mishap made possible by the complete darkness in the hall, and my fumbling with the lens-cap. It's the first time that's ever happened, lest you think I'm a fumbling idiot (idiot, maybe... fumbler, not!). No matter though -- I saw no major bad effects in the remaining photos.

a frisky aimee

I didn't write down the set list so I won't try to list songs from memory. Suffice it to say Aimee spanned all her work, even having fun with a fan who shouted out a request for "Voices Carry". [No! No! I moaned] Her humorous reply showed what a good mood she was in. She bantered and joked a bit about being dared to play the song, finally saying: "... alright, we're gonna fu_kin' play it!". Actually, the version they played was rather good.

it's still R&R

Aimee seemed in very good spirits by the end of the night.
As was I.
"... because moth believes in an afterglow..."
The afterglow for this moth lasted for the whole long drive back to CT.
(boosted by a large DD coffee)


Thanks to Michael Lockwood, John Sands, & the band.
Thanks to all the fans who filled the hall.
Thanks to Juliana Hatfield ♥
And thanks ♥ Aimee!


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