After a three year break, the Aimee Mann Christmas Show is back - this time with her musical partner from The Both, Ted Leo. I've been to two previous shows, both at Bimbo's in San Francisco, and they were both fantastic. The show is sort of a variety show, with a mix of Christmas music, original music, sketches, guests, and an overall goofy but sincere vibe. The big difference this year, aside from Ted Leo, is the SF show was at The Fillmore instead of Bimbo's.
What I loved about the Bimbo's shows was they set up the venue with small round tables, each with a tablecloth and candle. The shows felt like a show instead of a concert. The Fillmore show was standard general admission, standing room only, so definitely felt like a concert. I'd love to see the show return to Bimbo's next year. Now, on to the show itself. Here's the set list:
The show opened with a video done in the style of a 70's TV show (complete with "Filmed before a live studio audience" tag). The premise was Aimee and Ted were crime solvers, touring the country as a cover. It was some good cheesy fun. Once the video finished, Aimee and Ted took the stage, along with the rest of the band.
Aimee and Ted had some good banter, welcoming everyone to the return of the Christmas Show, and Aimee making it clear she was relieved to be taking a break from solving crimes. All she wanted to do was play music and have a good time, and would NOT under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be solving murders.
"Nothing Left To Do (Let's Make This Christmas Blue)" [The Both]
The first song was a newly written tune by The Both (Aimee and Ted) called “Nothing Left To Do (Let’s Make This Christmas Blue)” You can listen to the song here:
There's been a murder!
After the first song, comedian Tim Heidecker ran on stage in a panic, saying there was a murder back stage...and it was Santa that was murdered! Ted immediately wants to investigate, but Aimee is having none of it. She's on vacation. Let the police handle it...Ted tries to convincer her, but to no avail.
"Sleigh Ride" [Ted and Aimee]
Next, Ted and Aimee did a version of Sleigh Ride.
"Walking in a Winter Wonderland" [Ted and Aimee]
This one was on Aimee's Christmas album, "One More Drifter in the Snow". Having Ted join in on vocals was a nice addition. After this song, it was time to introduce a special guest: Susanna Hoffs!
Hazy Shade of Winter [Susanna Hoffs]
Susanna joined Aimee and Ted and totally rocked Hazy Shade of Winter. How great would a Bangles reunion be?
Tim Heidecker (Comedian)
Comedian Tim Heidecker took the stage to do his uncomfortable brand of comedy. I liked it, but it's not for everyone. Sadly, for the SF show, Tim and Susanna would be just two of three special guests (more on the third guest in a bit). For the east coast shows Fred Armisen is also on the bill, and Jonathan Coulton is the comedian instead of Heidecker. Not sure why Fred couldn't make it to SF.
"What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" [Ted and Aimee]
This is a song Aimee has done at past Christmas Shows, and it involves costumes! This time around, Aimee was old man 2014, while Ted was baby new year, complete with diaper. Good times.
"Eternal Flame" [Susanna Hoffs]
Susanna came back on stage to perform Eternal Flame.
"I'll Be Home For Christmas" [Aimee]
Another Christmas classic that also appears on her "One More Drifter in the Snow" album.
"Donkey Song" [Ted]
Ted told a story about how his dad, tough guy that he was, would break down crying every time he heard this one particular song. So, once Ted and his siblings figured this out, they'd play the song whenever they wanted something from dear old dad. The song was the Donkey Song.
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" [Susanna, Aimee, Ted]
Susanna came back on stage to join Aimee and Ted for a hymn.
"Nes Gadol Haya Sham" [Susanna, et al.]
Aimee likes to include those of Jewish faith in the party. In the past, she's had visits from The Hanukkah Fairy. This year, Susanna Hoffs did the duties...since she's Jewish. She did a humorous history of Hanukkah set to the tune of Walk Like an Egyptian. Here's a short snippet (without video):
Handsome Jack (Magician)
The third and final guest for the evening was a magician, Handsome Jack. His main trick was to bring an audience member on stage and have her randomly point to people in the audience. He'd then ask each person to name something (sort of like doing Mad Libs). He then produced a sealed envelope and handed it to the audience member on stage. She opened the envelope and read aloud the story written inside. Sure enough, it WAS just like Mad Libs. Each of the things shouted out by the audience was incorporated into the story.
"You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" [Aimee and Tim]
Tim Heidecker came back out to do Grinch with Aimee. He did a fine job with the narration, but I think John C. Riley did it better. Others who've joined Aimee in the past were Grant Lee Phillips and Paul F. Thompkins. Maybe you need to have a middle name or initial in order to shine? Like I said, Tim was fine...but he had a lot to live up to.
Now it was time for the non-holiday portion of the show, with a couple songs from The Both, then a solo song from both Ted and Aimee.
"No Sir" [The Both]
No Sir is on the debut album from The Both. Aimee joked that it's not exactly a festive song.
Work on your story, sir Are you worried her mood's
gonna waver and change?
Don't blame the world or the girl for
what keeps you estranged
"Volunteers of America" [The Both]
Next up was Volumneers of America, one of my favorite songs from The Both. Here's the official video.
"Bottled in Cork" [Ted]
Ted was up next with a Ted Leo & The Pharmacists song, Bottled in Cork. This is a great Ted Leo song. Here's the official video.
"Save Me" [Aimee]
Now it was Aimee's turn, and she chose her Academy Award nominated song (from the movie Magnolia). Aimee sometimes refers to this song as "the song that lost an Oscar to Phil Collins and his cartoon monkey love song." It's definitely not a holiday song. I don't think this is the official version of the official video (couldn't find one), but here you go.
"Baby It's Cold Outside...or...There's Been a Murder Backstage" [Aimee and Ted]
This started out as Baby It's Cold Outside, but the lyrics quickly changed to a song about the backstage murder. After the song, Ted was finally able to convince Aimee to take the case and solve the murder, which led to a pretty funny bit...
"Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" [Ted and Aimee]
To solve the murder, Aimee decided to use a fool-proof interrogation technique. One by one she'd call up those who were backstage (Susanna, Hansome Jack, Tim) and get them to confess to whatever was on their mind. She'd call them out one at a time, ask them if there's anything they want to say, and when they said no, her and Ted would get really close on each side, playing the chorus to "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" over and over until the person went crazy and confessed. Susanna confessed she touched Ted's guitar backstage. Handsome Jack confessed he's never really liked Aimee's music. It was finally determined that Tim was the murderer and was put in handcuffs. Now, a word about that song. I love Paul McCartney. Huge fan. But this is one of his worst songs, so worked well as a torture device.
"Christmas Time Is Here" [Entire cast]
The final song of the evening was the entire cast (including a handcuffed Tim) doing "Christmas Time Is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was a good ending, but the set list on stage listed Aimee's original Christmas song "Calling on Mary" as the final song, coming after this one. Not sure if they just ran out of time or what, but I was really looking forward to "Calling on Mary".
Overall it was a fun show, as always, but I really do hope they move it back to Bimbo's next year.