Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

On Amanda Palmer

Here's a confession - when Neil Gaiman started talking about Amanda Palmer the other week, both in his blog, and in occasional chat, I was blank and thinking 'oh, Neil has a new musician he admires - I must check that out.' Then, he was sufficiently keen that he said I should go and see her perform, and so I looked her up, and realized that I knew her work as one half of the Dresden Dolls, and suddenly everything he said started to come into focus and when he offered to secure me a guest ticket, I went yes, please, gosh, yes please.

And went to the 'Who Killed Amanda Palmer' website, and listened to the new songs and was suddenly gripped with real enthusiasm. I love the sheer frenzied intensity of the voice and the incredibly percussive piano playing - if she hasn't listened to Bartok and Prokofiev and Ligeti, she bloody ought to, but on the other hand, I don't know what they'd teach her that she doesn't know already. I love the way that she makes songs her own - even a sentimental song by Dillie Keene of Fascinating Aida gets explored in ways that are totally Amanda Palmer while not falsifying a note or word of what Dillie wrote.

(Oh, and there's a small world moment. Dillie, whom I do not know personally, is the writing and singing partner of Adele Anderson, who is one of my very oldest friends. When Amanda Palmer mentioned Dillie to Neil, he mentioned Adele to her and sent her off to listen to FA's song 'Lieder'. Neil, of course, knows of FA mostly because he likes that sort of stuff, but also because he knows that he and Adele have me in common...)

What I did not know until I actually experienced the gig on Thursday night is how totally and utterly expressive and passionate Amanda Palmer is on stage, raw sweat and sex and glistening skin and a voice that strips paint and piano that breaks your brain. Earlier we got the utterly charming Puppini Sisters for a couple of numbers - which would have been a treat in any other circumstances, but here was very good petit fours before a huge piece of bleeding tender steak.

Simply, Amanda Palmer tears your heart out with half of her songs and then puts it back again, pre-loosened for her convenient later access. This was one of those gigs which will stick in my memory until the end - along with Bowie doing Ziggie Stardust, Dylan's 78 tour and Patti Smith doing her 12 set in St. Giles. It was a small gig, like the Smith, but a perfect one - small enough that when, as a trademark encore, she did her ukelele version of Radiohead's 'Creep' and walked through the audience and climbed on the sound desk and offered herself up like a sacrifice to lust and music, it could remain like the song says 'so fucking special' to each and every one of us.

At every good gig, I lose something, usually my hat. birdsflying and jamjar along with the lovely Olga Nunes helped me find it - later, Olga got me backstage and to the post-show party in the wilds of West London. I met Amanda briefly, and got one of those momentary sweaty hugs from a small bundle of flesh wire and electricity which make you a little bit in love for the rest of time.

I shall be a fan forever.
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