Wednesday, December 10, 2008

if there's a star above

My plans to put up a Christmas tree for the first time in I don't know how many years fell by the wayside--again. At least I have Aimee Mann's holiday show to remind me of the season.

Aimee Mann's Third Annual Christmas Show, Bimbo's 365 Club, December 7, 2008: Here's what the holidays mean to me: Rankin/Bass reruns, tons of baking, lots of shopping, and time to see my friends and family. Fortunately, I can also look forward to at least a couple of regular musical events in this otherwise touring-adverse time of the year.

Rudolph and Hermie

Aimee's show, in its third iteration, carried over familiar factors from years past, while at the same time bringing in new(ish) faces and sounds to keep us coming back for more. The overall show included fewer titles from One More Drifter in the Snow than before, though they reprised Aimee's own Christmas song, the Penn/Brion tune "Christmastime," and "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," to name a few. Newer selections, however, included "Sleigh Ride" (which moved Aimee to giggle on every third line) and the Heat Miser song (featuring Patton Oswalt on guest vocals).

Speaking of guests, as much as I miss Paul F. Tompkins, I loved having Patton Oswalt on the bill. I haven't seen him team up with Aimee since the Acoustic Vaudeville tour in 2000, and though he served a slightly different role this time, he was nothing short of hilarious. Of course, Patton commented on the recent election and shared some Christmas memories. I wouldn't have minded hearing his Cirque du Soleil recollections again, but I'm not complaining about the new (to me) material.

Nellie McKay was the other newish addition. I wasn't particularly impressed with her at Outside Lands, but I got a better sense of her charm in this show. Her vocals and her quips meshed nicely with the rest of the players', and she even got Aimee's supporting players Jebin Bruni and Jamie Edwards to dance around during her solo portion. Still, she just doesn't do it for me overall.

Thankfully, the returning members of the cast get better and better. Not that I needed yet another reason to love Grant-Lee Phillips, but his turning up as Willie Nelson to cover "Voices Carry" assured him a throne in my Hall of Fame. (And I'm sure that Patton knew exactly how close to home he hit in his introduction for "Willie" when he characterized a large portion of Aimee's audience as "over-40 shut-ins.") And that's not even taking into account Grant's other costume changes, with no help from his bandmates. In addition, the Hanukkah Fairy, a.k.a. Morgan Murphy, turned out a new rap this year covering the challah in her oven, made possible via immaculate conception.

Following last year's blueprint, Aimee presented a movie, "A Christmas Carol Aimee," directed by Tim and Eric and featuring Aimee as the Scrooge figure. You probably won't be surprised to hear that the film parodied the Dickens classic; that Paul F. Tompkins, John Krasinski, and John C. Reilly showed up in cameos; and even that it was incredibly hilarious. But we also saw a new face: Michael Cera, playing much closer to Evan from Superbad than George Michael from Arrested Development.

Aimee Mann, Bimbo's 365 Club, December 7, 2008

Lest you fear we succumbed to sugar (Plum Fairy) shock, no worries--Aimee dropped in several of her own tart, studied songs, about one from each album. Among Aimee's originals, I kinda bounced around inside when they rocked "Long Shot"; not only is it from my favorite of her albums, but I kinda love that she did a song that repeats the lyric "you fucked it up" at a Christmas show.

Same time next year?

See also:
» unless you hate baby jesus
» it's not going to stop

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