It's was a Christmas miracle. It's not that often that Hanukkah and Christmas Day occur at the same time, and Yo La Tengo had a special gift for everyone at Bowery Ballroom on the fourth night of their annual festive run: they got '80s/'90s indie rock band Christmas to reform and play their first show in over 25 years. It helps that one of the members, James McNew, was also in Yo La Tengo, but it was still quite a treat to have main members Michael Cudahy and Liz Cox (also of Combustible Edison) back on stage playing Christmas classics, like 1989 college radio hit "Stupid Kids."
Cudahy and Cox also joined Yo La Tengo during their main set to cover France Gall and April March. YLT's main set primary guest, though was C.J. Camerieri -- who has collaborated with Paul Simon, Anohni, The National, Rufus Wainwright and others -- who joined them on trumpet and french horn for "Moby Octopad, "Shadows," "Black Flowers," and "Before We Run."
At the end of the main set, Ira, Georgia and James brought out Lee Ranaldo to cover Velvet Underground's "Heroin." He would be back out for most of the encore -- as would the night's opening comedian, Todd Barry, who's also a pretty good drummer -- for a few songs, including Blue Oyster Cult's "This Ain't the Summer of Love" and another Velvet Underground cover, "Temptation Inside Your Heart." Todd left the stage, but Lee stuck around for a cover of Dylan's "Maggie's Farm" and then the night ended noisily and appropriately with Sonic Youth's "Mary-Christ."
The Hanukkah Night 4 mix CD was made by Laurie Anderson, the post-show DJ was Gaylord Fields, and proceeds benefited Community Musicworks & Eva’s Village. You can check out Yo La Tengo's setlist, via Jesse Jarnow's Frank & Earthy blog, as well as a few instagram pics/videos, below.
Yo La Tengo's remaining four Hanukkah shows at Bowery Ballroom are now all sold out, but sometimes more tickets are put back on sale, so it’s worth checking back.
Check out the previous nights — which have included appearances from Janet Weiss, Lucinda Williams, Sun Ra Arkestra, Steve Gunn/William Tyler and more — here.
Yo La Tengo – Hanukkah Night 4 @ Bowery Ballroom 12/25/2019 (via Frank & Earthy)
Santa Claus Goes Modern (Sven Swanson)
Big Day Coming (slow)
Let’s Do It Wrong
Point and Shoot
Laisse Tomber Les Filles/Chick Habit (France Gall/April March) (with Christmas’s Liz Cox on vocals & Michael Cudahy on guitar)
Moby Octopad (with C.J. Camerieri on trumpet & French horn)
Shadows (with CC)
Black Flowers (with CC)
Before We Run (with CC)
The Kid With the Replaceable Head (Richard Hell)
Nothing To Hide
Heroin (Velvet Underground, Roky Erickson arrangement) (with Lee Ranaldo on guitar & vocals)
This Ain’t the Summer of Love (Blue Oyster Cult) (with Todd Barry on drums)
Temptation Inside Your Heart (Velvet Underground) (with LR & TB)
Temptation Inside Your Heart reprise (Velvet Underground) (with LR & TB)
Maggie’s Farm (Bob Dylan) (with LR)
Mary-Christ (Sonic Youth) (with LR)