Amanda Palmer- The Sugar Club Feb 09February 24, 2009
When I arrived outside the Sugar Club I was just a wee bit surprised…I knew that Amanda Palmer was popular given her sold out shows but I didn’t know she has such a cult following! It has been a long while since I have seen a que outside of a venue and people actually queuing up just to see if there were any tickets still available. Once inside it was just as crazy and I was lucky to get a spot along the wall where I could stand!
As this was going to be an intimate gig I wasn’t sure if there was going to be any support but the very humorous Rohan Theatre came on…except it was only Rohan Kriwaczek himself with having a falling out with the theatre members…a deadpan sense of humour is definitely his foray! From the very first song he set the tone with a nice goth feel and his chats about the Guild of Funerary Violinists were amusing- the lyrics of his songs are definitely comical and he does actually have a good voice with kind of a Shane McGowan vibe going. A nice light way to open up the night especially for those with a dark sense of humour.
Amanda Palmer came on after a short bit and a surprising entrance it was in her old Victorian style dress. Once the cheers eventually died down she broke into a good sean nós version of The Wind That Shakes The Barley (nobody will ever beat Lisa Gerrard’s version in my book). She then ripped off the dress to reveal the Amanda I was expecting- tights, knickers and a tshirt and now at the keyboards she broke into the brilliant Astronaut. She certainly does have a cult following but I didn’t realise how fanatical they would be…Amanda was getting cheers for every movement she had on stage- something she commented on when she stretched her arms and hands…I daresay that if she passed wind that there would have been a cheer for that as well!
She then broke into the excellent Ampersand which was followed by the excellent tune by Momus I Want You But I Don’t Need You- extremely humorous lyrics and done well with Amanda’s voice. Of course there was going to be a Dresden Doll tune in there somewhere and Bad Habit was up and followed by the complete antithesis with My Favourite Things- looking back at the titles of the tunes they do suit each other but trying to picture Amanda as some sort of alternative Julie Andrews with a wicked looking habit helps.
Another Dresden Doll tune Mrs. O came next and again a complete change of course with I Google You which was penned by Neil Gaiman who of course was there as he was in town. The fantastic Guitar Hero was next and I have to say hearing a rather intimate version hit the spot- there was a new tune then called Trout Heart Replica but alas at this stage I can’t really recall what it was like.
Another Who Killed tune Runs In The Family was up and again the intimate version was excellent and then the ukulele came out for the tune House That I Grew Up In which has a great story behind it as well with Amanda’s mother telling her that the family home was going to be sold. She then broke off the expected routine again by telling the crowd a poem- about food if I remember correctly. After asking the question of what to do next, albeit probably redundantly, somebody shouted Oasis and after some hesitation she broke into that- lyrics as funny as ever!
She ended the gig with two Dresden Dolls tunes- one of which called Color Blind which I had never heard and was taken from their first EP- excellent tune which was then followed up with a long keyboard intro on Half Jack for the closure.
Of course she would have to come back for an encore, lest there be a riot, and not only did she come back out but travelled halfway up into the audience with the ukulele for a cover version of Radiohead’s Creep which the crowd joined in on.
She really has such a great relationship with the crowd- she was constantly bantering back and forth and there was such a great vibe because of it. The other thing that I thought was great was how unscripted the gig was- while there was some format it was unrehearsed and because of that it felt more that you were in her living room than a venue and that everything was being done with spontaneity. The stories she had in between the tunes really made a connection and even when she had to stop mid song to reboot the keyboard which had somehow changed key she was chatty with the crowd.
So all in all an excellent night and a shame that I had to leg it as soon as the gig was over…but more of Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman at the signing in Chapters!
Nicked some of the playlist from The Happiness Machine since I was missing a couple of song titles…
Wind That Shakes The Barley
I Want You But I Don’t Need You
My Favourite Things
I Google You
Trout Heart Replica
Runs In The Family
House That I Grew Up In