Aimee Mann's Christmas Show at Town Hall
Scoboco was all set to soak in some sentimental holiday spirit last Thursday night when Aimee Mann and lots of "surprise guests" took to the stage for her First Annual Christmas Show. And while we didn't exactly receive what we were hoping for (always a dangerous expectation around this time of year, anyway), it was definitely a fun night out, and Mann's voice is so lovely and affecting, and, during a visit from the Hanukkah Fairy (who knew?), Bo and Co laughed about as hard as I've ever seen them.
More a holiday-themed variety show than a straight-up Christmas performance, the night was emceed by comedian Paul F. Tompkins, with, we thought, decidedly mixed results. Yes, he could be charming and amusing, but did we really need that rambling bit at the top of the night about his elderly neighbors in Philadelphia when he was in his twenties? (The answer is: "No, we did not.") Much funnier was that Hanukkah Fairy, dressed in a raggedy tutu and gulping a Heineken, who deadpanned her way through a hilarious Q. and A. with Tompkins ("How many nights is Hanukkah?" asked the emcee. "Uh..... about five... or ten... depending on how busy you are," replied the Fairy).
But no matter how funny (or not) these bits were, we were anxious for some songs, and found the show's pacing frustratingly stutter-stop in the beginning. As for the music.... The too-smirky Grant Lee Philips had too much stagetime in our opinion, although his "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" duet with Mann was definitely fun. The always-welcome Nellie McKay sat at the piano for two lively solo songs; about halfway through the second number Co said "She's so old-fashioned!" And Mann... well, Mann was terrific when she finally kicked it into gear and performed what felt like a real set. In addition to the Christmas numbers (all of which were appealing; highpoints would include "I'll Be Home for Christmas", "Christmastime", and, best of all, her original "Calling on Mary"), Mann also did several of our Magnolia soundtrack favorites, including "Wise Up", "Build That Wall", and "Save Me". And then, unfortunately, at around 10:15, we had to leave, because it was a school night. But upon returning home, a Christmas Miracle! Fernando the super had put up the lights!