“I’m exactly the person I wanted to be” sang Amanda Palmer as she strummed a battered ukelele, prior to be joined on stage by her Dad, Jack Palmer. By the end of their incredible, powerful, and moving show at Le Poisson Rouge in New York this week, the audience as one was thinking “and what an extraordinary person Amanda Palmer has grown up to be”.
Markontour is privileged to enjoy a lot of live music, most of it wonderful, but this was one of those gigs that instantly goes into the ‘best of all time’ list. It was art of the highest form, blending beautiful singing and muscianship, with political commentary (everyone was thinking about Trump show at the Republican Convention in Cleveland anyway), musical history, and story-telling.
Palmer junior is the lead singer of the The Dresden Dolls, about whom I need to find out a hell of a lot more. I know nothing about her father, but he sang and talked like someone fully imbued in the sixties folk movement. Together they are touring a stunning album of covers, ‘You Got Me Singing’, that embraces Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs, Sinead O’Connor (a devestatingly poignant version of ‘Black Boys on Mopeds’), John Grant’s ‘Glacier’ and a Victorian nursery rhyme called ‘Wynken, Blynken and Nod Again’. There was also a song about Joan of Arc, during which Amanda borrowed a candle from a front row table as the lyrics turned to rising flames and imminent death.
It’s hard to pick out one single highlight, but I had never before heard ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’ and am now becoming slowly obsessed by its simultaneous themes of adventurousness and melancholy. But, being a confirmed softie, markontour’s favourite moment was the enthusiastic audience participation on ‘I Love You So Much’, where we we were invited to shout out dedications to people deserving of collective love (Bernie Sanders, everyone’s Mom, people displaced by war, and the bar staff).
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I am going to be in music-tip debt for quite some time to the two friends who took me to this incredible gig. Now to go out and find everything with which Amanda Palmer has ever been associated.