Saturday, November 17, 2012

Amanda Palmer Kickstarts TO
Phoenix Concert Theater

Amanda Palmer has been a busy girl since she was last through Toronto touring her Evelyn Evelyn piece. She's fully into the married life, had some serious party time down under, became a Kickstarter heroine and villainess all at once, put a new record together, Theater Is Evil, and is now touring with her cabaret-cum-busker-goth-orchestra troupe. She is a tireless dynamo and can blog the pants off anyone. She has survived the misery of her record company break-up, surpassed the promise of The Dresden Dolls, and emerged as a pioneer in the new artist-fan paradigm, one that takes out the middle man, the record company.

I think I even saw a piece online where she sold her virginity for $748,000.00 to an AntArctican penguin farmer.

Amanda is booked for 2013's Coachella Festival. I'm guessing she gets a 4 pm slot. Anything earlier would mean the organizers don't have their ear to the music. A later set time would show the proper respect for what she can bring to the stage.

After a brief stint in Europe this Toronto show is the first of the North American leg. It  coincides with the release of her ground breaking video for Do It With A Rock Star. Unfortunately we don't get that song in the set, even though it was on the cue sheet, likely due to the time taken up to wish a Happy Birthday to Neil via naked bodies painted to spell out the best wishes. Neil, you see, was in Paris. Fans wishing Neil well

Love the new record. It opens with an instrumental theme, a big orchestral cacophony of sound and quickly gets into Amanda's quirky observations on life, love, popular culture and death. Lot's of death. 

The night opens with a short set by the bass player and orchestral arranger. He's got a quartet of strings to accompany his electric bass. The crowd was won over by the end of  the opening track. Kind of like surf-grunge guitar, but with a bass.

The guitar lead on Amanda's backing band get a few songs to spotlight his band. All sorts of strangeness on stage. Every player a character, all loveable. It's like the cover of Dylan's Basement Tapes landed on your stage.There's a spirit to this tour that evokes  Bob's Rolling Thunder tour.

Amanda is a star. She's been onstage throughout, introducing the opening acts, organizing Neil's naked people thing, watching and cheering from the side stage. Every time she steps forward the beyond-enthusiastic crowds cheers loudly her movements and words.

A couple artistic treats in the set. Amanda exits stage left for a wardrobe change. She returns in a lengthy, clingy, gown and proceeds to enter the audience for a little crowd surfing. The gown begins to expand as she makes her way over a wave of fans. It creates a canopy that covers the floor as she moves from the stage to the soundboard and back. Very cool. And I got to touch her butt. Open hand, no grasping. Proper crowd surfing etiquette was displayed by all.

For the encore the band made their way to the balcony, climbing the rails to perform to the flashlight wielding multitude in the pit, an unplugged reprise of Want It Back.

And that's all she wrote. Here's the set list with a selection of songs.
 (NOTE: This recording is a little 'hot'. I did not do a good job gauging my levels tonight.)

 A Grand Theft Intermission
 Smile (Pictures or It Didn't Happen)
 The Killing Type
 Want It Back
 Missed Me
 (The Dresden Dolls cover)
 (Amanda Palmer cover)
 Grown Man Cry
 The Bed Song
 Trout Heart Replica
 Neil's B-Day Moment
 Melody Dean
 Girl Anachronism
 (The Dresden Dolls cover)
 Want It Back
 (from balcony)

And here's a link to some videos on youtube, 'cause lookin' at Amanda is almost as good as hearing her.

Amanda Palmer on YOUTUBE

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