Aimee Mann's Christmas show: A Festivus for the rest of us

15510__aimee_lLast night, I went to Aimee Mann‘s Christmas Show at Town Hall here in New York. Get it? It’s ironic, because her songs are depressing. And yet the premise totally, totally worked. Small, cozy venue, a random cast of characters sharing a tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm for the holidays, Aimee darting from awkward and shy to giggly to dead-on hilarious — the entire thing was the most valuable use of two hours I’ve undergone since Thanksgiving dinner. I hope she’ll continue to do a similar show each year, so more fans in more cities can catch on. I can see this becoming an annual NYC holiday tradition for me, like eating Nuts 4 Nuts every afternoon or "accidentally" stepping into tourists’ photos if it means I can cover sidewalk space more quickly.

Aimee spent only about half the time singing — old songs, new songs from her Christmas CD, One More Drifter in the Snow, even some of her most dire songs like "Save Me" and "Wise Up". Indie rocker Grant-Lee Phillips narrated Aimee’s delightfully throaty version of "You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." SNL‘s Fred Armisen (pictured, center, with Phillips and Mann) kept popping up to do inexplicable things like attempt to play ZZ Top’s "Sharp Dressed Man" on a big-screen Guitar Hero. Nellie McKay started maybe seven sentences in a row, finished none of them, called her mom from her perch at the piano, then launched into an awesomely trippy version of "Frosty the Snowman." We got a special visit from the Hanukkah Fairy (comedian Morgan Murphy), who wore a tutu and spouted out incorrect facts about the Jewish holiday (most Jews she knows like to eat chicken tikka masala during each night of "Naanukkah") while lazily nursing a beer. Comedian and sort-of emcee Paul F. Tompkins, who left halfway through for a different gig, gradually grew on me, and luckily, every time "Enough already — where the hell is Aimee?" occurred to me, she’d come prancing back onstage shaking a tambourine.

Honestly, none of it made any sense, which is probably why it was so satisfying. I say: Whatever.

addCredit(“Aimee Mann: Annie Barrett”)

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  • regan

    I saw her very first show of this ‘tour’ in San Francisco and was bowled over by how absolutely amazing the night was. Aimee Mann! Grant-Lee Phillips! John C. Riley! Paul F. Thompkins! The Hanukkah Fairy! I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a concert that even compares to this one.
    I’m keeping my fingers crossed all year that she’ll do this again next year.

  • Thomas

    I saw this show last night and thought it was one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever seen. Aimee was more relaxed than I’ve ever seen her, and her songs sounded fantastic. Kudos to Annie Barrett both for going and for writing a blog about it. Aimee deserves all the attention she can get.

  • greg

    I love aimee mann and it sounds like this concert was awesome. I read a really good review in the Times yesterday, and reading this, I’m especially sorry I missed it. It’d be great if she did it every year. But people should seriously consider picking up “one more drifter in the snow.” It’s an awesome album.

  • Dana

    Aimee Mann is soooooo flippin’ cool.

  • dmj49

    haha, that’s awesome. rock on, aimee.
    ps. is that last sentence in reference to her first solo album, “whatever?”

  • Anna

    If that picture is any indication, it seems like the show was every bit as zany and festive as Annie Barrett is saying it is. I saw Aimee Mann last year at Roseland Ballroom and she truly kicked butt. Her band is amazing, they’re all really in sync with eachother. Here’s to hoping she puts out another original album asap, although it seems like the christmas music is doing her just fine for now.

  • paige

    i just heard about this show yesterday when i passed by town hall… i was so pissed i was too late!!!! oh well, ive seen Aimee before in jersey and i saw her do a mini-show in virgin megastore in union square. i love aimee mann and always will.

  • paige

    I was there too. Oh what it fun it was to ride … even all the calamity caused by Paul F. Tompkins’ early departure was great.
    The global warming quip was hilarious. The jazzy version of “One” was the most gorgeous version I ever heard. Nellie cracked me up by speaking in phrases and then singing in the most gorgeous way possible. And I know how to pronounce her last name now, thank goodness!
    I agree, I hope it rolls on next year.

  • Martha

    I like Aimee Mann, and the show sounded great, but would it kill her to wash and/or brush her hair every now and then? Not to be a Grinch or anything, but I almost prefer it a la Til Tuesday… ;-)

  • Heather

    Yes, Festivus for the rest of us. It is great to see that others are celebrating Festivus. There is a great Festivus video on http://www.whatisfestivus.com. Check it out. Let the airing of grievances begin.

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