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Michael Penn... Bunker Hill
MP on Tour...

Here's an article about Michael Penn and Aimee Mann's show in San Francisco...
(Thanks to Joe for sending this to me.)


Aimee Mann, Michael Penn Open Tour With Romance,
Cynicism, Comedy

Husband-wife singer/songwriters trot out new songs and
a stand-up comic. 

Contributing Editor Jenny Slater reports: 

SAN FRANCISCO — Some musicians like to let their songs
do the talking for them. Husband-wife
singer/songwriters Aimee Mann and Michael Penn, who
opened their joint U.S. tour on Wednesday night,
brought a stand-up comic to do the job.
'"I've never been too comfortable with the whole
between-song-banter thing," Mann told the overflow
crowd at Bimbo's 365 Club. "So tonight he's going to
do it for me."

She was talking about local comedian Patton Oswaldt,
who warmed up the audience and whom Mann reintroduced
shortly after she and her band — including Penn on
bass and backing vocals — took the stage. The two
singer/songwriters took turns leading the band during
a nearly three-hour set, singing about disappointment,
sarcasm, cynicism and, as always, romance. 

Oswaldt in some ways stole the show, intermittently
providing lighthearted commentary around the
emotion-heavy songs he was bookending.

"Hi, I'm Aimee 'Golden Globe' Mann," he announced,
referring to her Golden Globe Award nomination for
"Save Me", a song from her acclaimed soundtrack to the
movie "Magnolia". Other soundtrack cuts included the
spare, quavering "Wise Up" and the somber "Deathly."

Bachelor #2 Songs Previewed
Mann, who has famously bounced among record labels
since the breakup of her new-wave band, 'Til Tuesday —
which scored a 1985 pop hit with "Voices Carry" —
showcased songs from the soundtrack and from her
upcoming Bachelor #2, which she plans to release on
her own label. They were deceptively simple-sounding
songs, about emotion, confusion, change and growth.

Songs such as "You Could Make a Killing", from her
1996 solo album I'm With Stupid, and the fragile
ballad "Save Me" highlighted Mann's unconventional
approach to both interpersonal relationships and her

Sporting shoulder-length blond hair and dressed in
black denim jeans and jacket, Mann primarily played an
acoustic guitar. Along with Penn, the band included
Buddy Judge on guitar, John Sands on drums and Patrick
Warren on keyboards, providing texture that varied
from simple piano to dreamy synth and warped Moog

"We don't have the big bus to tour with the equipment
we need," Mann said, laughing, as she introduced a
hip-hop-style drum loop for the bouncy pop song
"That's Just What You Are," another song from I'm With

"Her voice seems so much stronger now," Jen Boyce, 32,
of San Francisco, said. "She still has that sort of
vulnerability about her, but ... well, it sounds like
it's been a long 15 years."

In With The Old, In With The New
Penn stepped forward periodically, allowing Mann to
fade back and harmonize. He selected songs from
throughout his 11-year career but highlighted material
from his new album, MP4 (Days Since a Lost Time
Accident), which comes out Tuesday.

Though MP4 is a wall-of-sound-style pop album, Penn
played stripped-down, jangly versions of such tracks
as "Whole Truth" and "Perfect Candidate," as well as
the countryish "Bucket Brigade," giving each a
psychedelic tint.

Intertwining their voices, careers and lyrics with
ease, Mann took the microphone for Penn's signature
hit "No Myth", singing the song's choruses while Penn
chimed in on every other verse.

 "I'm mostly here to see Aimee Mann," Dominic Mah, 24,
of Berkeley, said.

"I think it's cool that she and her husband are able
to perform together. They do sound good together,
though his songs seem lighter and funnier than hers."
Comedian Oswaldt, meanwhile, jokingly translated
Penn's unintelligible stage patter, drawing loud
laughs from the band for gibes about the singer's
penchant for sitting at home in his bean bag chair
while listening to Van Halen's 1984 album.

With Mann fading into the background, Penn, dressed in
black, pin-striped pants and a tight, black sweater,
played a solo acoustic take of "Long Way Down (Look
What the Cat Drug In)," raising his voice slightly on
the biting refrain, "I got a feeling she's been
sleeping with the whole wide world."

A Surprise Encore
He and Mann stood back and applauded as surprise guest
Chris Isaak was introduced during the encore.
Providing a final moment of levity for the evening,
Isaak picked up the bass and plunked awkwardly through
an opening vamp.

"Oh, someone's just up here because he bought a new
suit," Mann gibed.

"Aw, c'mon, Aimee ... I also bought all your albums,"
Isaak deadpanned. "I got your picture taped up above
my bed." As the audience roared, he quickly turned to
the spouse-bassist and added, "Oh ... yours, too,

With the natty Isaak still fumbling around on Penn's
Rickenbacker bass, Mann led the band through a slow,
funereal version of "Voices Carry," with a droning,
raga-like keyboard. With Mann standing in the
spotlight and a powerful team behind her, the
vulnerability of 15 years ago seemed gone, replaced by
certainty and strength. 

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