(Intern Amber Bela Muse checked out Amanda Palmer on Saturday, November 14th, in Brooklyn. She asked me to post her review of the marvelous show while she's a busy bee traveling to and fro. Enjoy!)
Last Saturday night, in front of the Music Hall of Williamsburg, I stood waiting in a long line to get tickets to see Amanda Palmer. It was cold, rainy and my mood was beginning to sour. When I finally got inside I bee-lined for the bar to get a drink. To my surprise, there was another long line but it wasn’t for the bar, it was for Amanda Palmer merchandise.
To be honest, I have only just come to know Ms. Palmer’s music. I had never listened to her previous band, The Dresden Dolls, but when I heard her voice on MySpace, I instantly bought her solo record. I enjoy her words--they cut deep and send me into manic spasms of laughter and tears all at the same time. Another thing, being in the presence of true Palmer fans was special. I’ve been to a ton of concerts but I have never seen the merchandise table more crowded than the actual performance floor. Everyone wanted a piece of Palmer memorabilia--a girl next to me begged her mother to buy a signed copy of Amanda’s book Who Killed Amanda Palmer to accompany the album of the same title, plus two t-shirts and a hoodie for a grand total of $200. The girl clutched her items closely and screamed, her mother standing by, “This is perfect masturbation material!” This girl couldn’t have been older than 15 but I came to realize Amanda Palmer fans have no fear.
Everyone cheered as the lights went down. Horns were blowing and cymbals were crashing but no one was on stage. The audience turned their heads and there she was, “Nervous Cabaret,” Amanda Palmer's supporting band, were ushering her to the stage through a sold out crowd of over 500 people.
Amanda jumped to her keyboard wearing a lacy bra, corset, mini bustle skirt, American flag tights, combat boots and “YES” written in big black marker across her chest. She belted her first song, “Missed Me” with roaring energy. I could barely hear her sing because everyone was singing along… yes everyone. I felt like an out-cast not knowing all the words.
The Amanda Palmer experience is angst-y, strange and funny as hell. She teased her fans like lovers and threw flowers around romantically. In return, the audience offered support when she forgot lyrics and listened intensely as she read poetry between songs. The strangest moments by far were the “Ask Amanda Q & A,” a segment where she pulled audience questions from a hat, and a forty minute long auction where paintings made by hardcore Palmer fans sold for over $350!
Amanda reminds me of a cross between Ziggy Stardust and PJ Harvey because she knows how to entertain. Her piano skills are classically perfect and although she sometimes sings out of key, she sounds beautiful, raw and passionate. Nervous Cabaret accompanied her with awesome horns, percussion and backing vocals. “Guitar Hero” was my personal favorite. Amanda had the audience in the palm of her hand and every note pulsated like a perfect anthem should; I think I even pumped my fist at one point during the chorus. Drunken covers of the rock classic “House of The Rising Sun” and later The Ting Tings “That’s Not My Name” should have been cut from the set list. So many covers in one night seemed unnecessary.
By the end of the concert I felt exhausted. Amanda performed until about 2am, finishing the night with a ukulele strummed cover of “Makin’ Whoopie” in the lobby. I heard the next day that she and writer, Neil Gaiman, stayed up even later to sign copies of their book. I had to go home for Amanda and her fans wore me out.
I’ll definitely see her again the next time she comes to New York but I’ll need about five Red Bulls ahead of time.
Amber Bela Muse