Last Saturday I saw Amanda Palmer...live...for the first time...and it was brilliant.
I can't remember when I first came across Amanda Palmer. I certainly knew and loved The Dresden Dolls, and was aware of her in your face attitude. As a huge fan of Neil Gaiman I guess I started to come across her more when she became his wife. Initially I was a little gobsmacked, but following both of them on social media, you can see they are the golden standard for modern romance. I know Amanda has toured before, Newcastle even (how I missed that I still have no idea!), so was keen to see her in the flesh.
And with Amanda, that can be quite literally. She is an all encompassing performer, embraces nudity, and (in my thoughts) is a real feminist. She loves men but doesn't need them, incredibly independent, tells it like it is, isn't precious about feminity, yet always looks amazing, and is kick arse! We all should be that cool!
I mean, she IS Amanda Fucking Palmer...or AFP as she is known!
So I set off on The Shitkansen with my friends, L, J and A for our AFP Adventure. (Every outing needs a hashtag) After some roving round the city we met up with our fifth accomplice, S and changed our hashtag to Five Go Wild at AFP (homage to our beloved Enid Blyton).
Amanda was doing a ten night residency at The Spiegeltent in Hyde Park, as part of The Sydney Festival, and Saturday was Performance 3. It was GA seating but we scored some great seats about 7 rows back.
The lights dimmed and we waited with anticipation and behind us a voice and ukulele started up, Radiohead's Creep. It the shadows near the bar she sang, cracking herself up from time to time and finally seductively making her way to the stage. She ended on a long operatic note, which was dazzling. I believe she is classically trained, or at least it certainly sounds as if she is. Her vocal range is stunning and her piano playing amazing.
I always enjoy her music, but I guess it is more for listening to live, and finally seeing her cemented that thought. She gives so much of herself for the entire time you feel like you might be in her bedroom looking in. Yet she makes you feel special and loved. There is much chatting and frivolity in between most songs, with stories of how they came to be or little comments about Australia. Amanda loves Australia and gets our humour and lifestyle.
Now, as wonderful as it was, I feel my descriptions do it no justice at all. It is such a visceral and powerful thing to hear such raw emotion and honesty delivered through songs (humourous or not) that I just can't find the right words...but I shall try.
The first song after Creep, was Coin Operated Boy, a Dresden Dolls song I have always loved because of it's theatrical tone and whimsical AND melancholy feel. By the end of that, if she hadn't already, the audience were in the palmer of her hand and behaving accordingly. My god, the first concert I have been to in forever that no one is annoying, in fact I cannot recall even noticing the audience. This is something!
The set was only an hour (as it is each night) and it went fast, too fast, but by god it was amazing.
Standouts for me were Vegemite (mostly because it is one of my favourites of hers, she does not like Vegemite, and neither do I...I know from experience we are in a minority, so when I first heard it, I whooped with glee!), her duet with Brendan Maclean on Bats For Lashes' Laura, Drover's Boy, and Bigger on the Inside.
Ted Egan's Drover's Boy, a song I knew but not well, was simply stunning. It was haunting and brought a tear to my eye. It's moments like that, you really think there is nothing this woman can't do!
Also the haunting Bigger on the Inside, dealing with a lot of traumatic and sad material and about being pushed to your limits had the audience hushed and you could hear a pin drop.
And then when we thought we could take no more, she ended with the delightfully upbeat Ukulele Anthem. About the joys and simplicities of playing the ukulele.
We left feeling great, Amanda came out to sign items and hug people after, we watched from afar, eating our gelatos and feeling fabulous.
P.S. My photos are not that great. I was using my phone, which is usually pretty good, in a very dark environment without a flash and then had to contend with the staging lights. But you get the gist!