Mandy Moore

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Average User Rating 9.00
Total Reviews 1
Last Reviewed August 20th, 2006
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Mandy Still Sweetie on the eyes and ears
Venue/Date: Pabst Theater (Milwaukee, WI)
Concert Date:  
October 2nd, 2007
Reviewer: aceshooter

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Moore trades bubblegum for intelligent folk pop

Posted: Oct. 1, 2007

Three years ago, with her pop princess days clearly behind her, Epic Records decided to drop Mandy Moore.

One would think Moore wouldn't have particularly cared. As a teen queen she was never more than a wholesome but minor alternative to Britney, Christina and Jessica.

More to the point, she had gone on to become a legitimate movie star and one who spoke of her early records with open disdain. In fact, she was quoted as saying she wished she could give everyone who had bought one a refund.

So it's kind of a surprise that, at 23, Mandy Moore has resurfaced as a recording artist. Indeed, she's on her very first tour, which brought her to the Pabst Theater on Sunday night.

More surprising yet, her new music is a kind of intelligent, folk pop, written with respectable collaborators like The Weepies, alt-country writer Lori McKenna and Rachael Yamagata. Stranger yet, there's been a quiet but distinct shift of critical support in her direction.

It's a little hard to say what all that means quite yet. The new album, "Wild Hope," hasn't been a huge hit, and while she drew a respectable crowd at the Pabst, most of the attendees looked to be college-age girls who might have bought "Candy" as preteens back in the '90s. So whether they were there out of nostalgia or a genuine enthusiasm for the new music is hard to say.

The same sweet, unaffected qualities that have made Moore so disarming on the movie screen clearly also work to her advantage on stage.

Before the first song was over, the pit in front of the stage was full of fans who came to dance or just gawk. To her credit, she seemed genuinely flattered and surprised by the response.

Musically, she's clearly stepped up to another level. The new songs are emotionally nuanced and polished.

"Adore Her" is an invitation to love an eccentric girl with a surprise twist of vulnerability at the end. "Nothing That You Are" is a tart dismissal of a failed relationship.

Moore also shows reliable good taste with her occasional cover. "Looking Forward" is a new song about using selective memory to retain the best things in a former relationship, and it segued into an unlikely but surprisingly successful medley with Cat Stevens' "Moon Shadow."

She followed that a few songs later with Joni Mitchell's "Help Me." She clearly has good instincts about material. If she continues like this, Moore shouldn't need to worry about giving anybody a refund.

She also has good taste in support acts.

Ben Lee, who preceded her, is a witty and deft troubadour who feels like a youthful mix of Woody Allen and Art Garfunkel. He clearly charmed the crowd and had them singing along.

Opener Chris Stills is the son of Stephen Stills, and there's a definite family resemblance both physically and musically. He's clearly inherited some of his dad's guitar chops, although the boisterous admiration of some of the ladies up front did seem to rattle him slightly.

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