It’s bold, it’s beautiful, it’s charisma, charm, sorrow, irony, above all it’s some lovely punk bantering that no one can pull off if they haven’t experienced life as Amanda Palmer has.
A friend of mine working as a music journalist as well and who’s a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, and no matter what he can’t write a word of criticism because for him it’s not possible that Springsteen releases boring songs or just pull off a “fairly good” show (fun, because Amanda told the crowd how a friend of her convinced her about the greatness of Springsteen). For a long time I thought that was ridiculous but then I was at my first Dresden Dolls gig (too) many years ago, the punk cabaret duo that Palmer started with Brian Viglione, and finally understood.
When you get the perfect combination of music, tragedy, depression, politics, personal life stories, all coated in loads of bantering, and you leave the show feeling a huge pleasure at the same time as you are a bit uncomfy because you’re confronted with topics/thoughts that you usually don’t speak up about, at least not among strangers, you know it has hit the right spot. As a solo artist Amanda Palmer perfected all those components and even made it more personal.
Let’s say we didn’t know what was about to come his night however much we have listened to her music.
Of course we’re a bit late because the ticket office at Laeiszhalle works at the same speed as I am running a marathon, and that’s not fast. After spending thirty minutes (well, that’s a quick marathon, isn’t it?) in line we were let in after the opener. Laesizhalle don’t let people walk into the shows whenever they want to which we actually appreciate; artists need their focus. While the photographer ran like an Olympic medalist across the venue to the photographers spot, I found myself in a perfect position to get a great overview of the show.
Amanda’s bantering – what we love her for – starts directly and she basically makes the setlist for the night by asking people in the crowd what to play, but turned down a request of playing a Nick Cave cover while embracing the fact that Cave is about to release a new album before she embarked on a three-hour long concert/bantering journey in Laeiszhalle.
It’s the bantering that makes it a show, the talk in-between song where she thrust herself into emotional personal stories and topics such as feminism, her own life stories, or the story on how she recently did a gig in the Austrian city Graz in a dirndl (there’s photos online). It’s all hilarious and also the reason why it’s such a long show because it’s not that many songs.
The point is that it all fits together; the songs wouldn’t be anything without the stories and the stories wouldn’t come to life if there wasn’t music in between. And there’s no other artist that can turn a terrible/horrible story into something fun, just like when she told us about being tied to a table by her boyfriend at the age of fourteen just because he wanted her to a be a birthday gift for a friend (who later untied her and became her boyfriend), and just right after thrust herself into Dresden Dolls hilarious song “Coin-Operated Boy”. It’s basically impossible to not feel a bit awkward after that story of nearly being raped (if that boy wouldn’t have been of the right kind you never know what would have happened) and then perform that song. But she says it herself: “An artist’s job is to make you feel uncomfortable” (or something like that).
However many great songs from her solo career or Dresden Dolls songs she perform nothing can compete with the German cover songs she’s pulling off. Now, I’m not German and don’t have a shared cultural history with Germans although I’ve been in Germany for a long time, thus I know very little about German music, but she’s doing a great cover of Die Ärzte’s “Schrei nach Liebe” (if you’re a punk you know your punk bands wherever they come from) and then something that someone said could be a Kurt Weill cover. The third cover, no idea but the crowd loved it.
I could continue writing about all songs and all bantering in this review but it will be a three-hour reading (and the limit for a review is 500 words I’ve been taught by the editor – didn’t fix that this time!), and I can’t do Amanda Palmer justice by trying to recapitulate it all, you just need to see this. Even better, she ended the show by revealing she will be back in one or two years for a tour with Dresden Dolls!
Messed!Up never grade concerts at any time before. Hell, we rarely do concert reviews because our experience are ours and necessarily not what everyone else experience. However, this night is an exception because this night we’ve experienced our first perfect “tenner”.
This is by far the best show we have been to out of those 147 we already visited this year. But there’s just one artist like Amanda Palmer. It’s a performance involving so much more than music that you just have to be there to understand. An experience leading us to sign up for her Patreon. Do it yourself, now, today.
Photographer: ©Teresa Enhiak Nanni