On Saturday evening, critically acclaimed, affable songsmith Aimee Mann played to a sold-out crowd at the historic Franklin Theatre with support from her friend and fellow songwriter's songwriter Ted Leo. The two even performed a handful of songs together as The Both, their collaborative project — The Both showcases not only each artist's stellar vocal and instrumental chops, but also their knack for crafting the kind of earnest-but-not-sappy fare that bridges the gap between folk and punk.
After a solo performance from Leo, Mann launched into a 90-minute set — most of which featured expert playing from two sidemen, pianist Jamie Edwards and bassist Paul Bryan — consisting of songs from I'm With Stupid, Bachelor No. 2 and last year's Charmer, among others. Leo came out around mid-set to join Mann in delivering a couple of The Both songs, the standout of which was a tune about Milwaukee called "Milwaukee" that references the city's notably weird-looking Bronz Fonz statue. Mann and Leo are obviously close pals with a genuine and unassuming sort of chemistry, and after a bit of endearingly nerdy banter, Leo backed Mann on the undeniable "Save Me" — Mann was in perfect voice, and Leo's contributions were tasteful.
Mann & Co. closed with a rendition of "Voices Carry," the MTV-era New Wave hit by Mann's old outfit 'Til Tuesday. Mann called up Grant-Lee Phillips (formerly of Grant Lee Buffalo, of course, and apparently newly relocated to Nashville from L.A.) to provide backing vocals, which he delivered with the most gob-smackingly spot-on Willie Nelson impression we've ever heard.
Click here to see photographer Michael W. Bunch's slideshow from the show.