First off, a big thanks to WRAS for the free tickets to this show!
It was a beautiful fall Friday night, which is pretty typical for Atlanta this time of year.
The Variety Playhouse was fully packed. When we showed up, Ted Leo had just started playing. The last time we saw him was in Vancouver when he was playing with The Pharmacists. This show in Atlanta though was very different. When we walked in, everyone was sitting, which was very strange for the Variety. As a result, the whole tone of the show was much more subdued than a typical Ted Leo performance.
Still, he gave a strong performance that the crowd enjoyed. His demeanor was more mellow and chill than expected, so his chatting in-between songs was tempered and at times awkward. This awkwardness was a good lead-up to Aimee Mann though.
The whole tone of the sow as much more subdued than a typical Ted Leo performance
About an hour into the show, Ted Leo announced that he had a new project and band, so the next time he would perform would probably be with that group. At that point, he broke the news that Aimee Mann was part of the new band -- the crowd cheered vibrantly as he called her on-stage to play a couple of their new songs. At this point, Aimee walked on stage and wowed us with her Mickey-mouse hot-pants and fishnet stockings. Ted Leo drew attention to her shirt, which featured two Aimee Mann figures on her chest, which was hilarious to both Ted Leo and the whole audience. After several minutes of awkward banter between the two, they started in on some of their "new material".
After all the awkward banter about her shirt, when she came out after Ted Leo, she was wearing a different shirt, now featuring Mickey Mouse. Aimee played a great set of her standard music, crowd pleasers for the older generation in the crowd. At this point, it's worth mentioning the atypical make-up of the crowd: there was a definite generational split, with a majority of the crowd probably there to see Aimee Mann, so on average were probably a couple decades older than the age of those whom I assume were there to see Ted Leo. That's probably also part of the reason the concert was seated, with plastic chairs up in front of the stage.
Later in the evening, after Aimee finished her solo set, she invited Ted Leo back up to the stage to play more of their new songs. She shared another story about how her brother hates it when bands play "new material". This was another one of the typical, funny, awkward exchanges between Aimee, Ted Leo, and the audience. Having seen other band's new material before in the past and being disappointed (such as seeing Weezer try out their new material for the Green Album back in the day) this was different. Aimee Mann and Ted Leo compliment each other surprisingly well. Their musical interludes and harmonizing accompaniments were very well received, and definitely the best part of the show. Oh yeah, did I mention the awkward bantering? Well that is probably going to be part of their joint project, which they told us was currently called "The Both" -- again very awkward, since they supposedly have a drummer (who wasn't there last Friday.)
I will keep my eyes peeled for their new album, which they told us will likely come out at some point in February. The next time we see Ted Leo will hopefully be with both Aimee Mann and their drummer. Even though the show was subdued, at times awkward, and a definite departure for the typical Ted Leo style, it was an excellent concert!