Experimental Music Love

January 8, 2008

Amanda Palmer – Speigeltent, Edinburgh 11/08/07

Filed under: Live Reviews — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 9:56 pm


Music is still fun to listen to.


I imagine music will still be fun to listen to in the near future. Unless you go deaf. *


Music is comprised of notes. A note is also something you can write to remind yourself of an event or anniversary of sort. Maybe Mussolini’s death. Or the first chip pan fire in Wales (it killed 75, and gave a delicious crunch to 103).


Yes, I can indeed do a review, as I went to my first proper live gig in a good ages donkey while. Who was it? Can you guess? I’ll give you a clue. She’s a member of a popular gothic punk duo. She plays the piano, very well. She likes stripey tights. She has very flexible legs. She also likes ukeleles (ukelele, Ikelele, we all kelele). And she is my future wife. No it wasn’t Barry George. It was the beautiful, wonderful, glorious, blissful, oh so talented Amanda Palmer, one half of vaudevillian eccentrics, Dresden Dolls.

The scene? Well, where else but the wonderful city of Edinburgh in the middle of festival season and its most intriguing of all venues, the Spiegeltent. Or Mirror Tent if you don’t speak German. An apt name, due to the many mirrors. I can’t think of a joke to insert here to make that statement less boring. More apologies (oh, you’re really getting them today. I hope you feel duitifully apologised to. If not, complain to your mum. It’s probably her fault for raising you wrong and ungrateful.)

There were seats and they were wooden and I was quite near the back which disappointed me in many ways. Mainly because I love Amanda Palmer. But for other reasons too. She came on, she got applause and sat down at the keyboard. And I shall call what happened from thenceforth the ‘gig’.

This ‘gig’ was good. Even if most of the early set comprised of relatively unknown songs she was working on for her solo record (produced by Ben Folds), it was never anything less than utterly captivating. Our voice is one of very few that manages to deal with both humour and heartbreak at an equally extraordinary level, with her little quirks and looks to crowd never failing to cause a mirthful chuckle among the crowd, yet still commanding their respect and solemnity when the occasion occurs.

Her attire is pleasingly in accordance with the burlesque tendencies of her chosen venue, with her suspenders and white shirt combo emphasising the sense of fun she can so easily bring to an event. Similar remarks could be made upon the theatrical posse she has assembled to weave through the aisles and join her own stage to provide even more visual pleasure to the already ample aural delights on offer.

One such theatrical friend.


However, all the initial set, as pleasing as it is, seems just foreplay for what is in store. The new songs make way for an old favourite in Coin Operated Boy as some familiarity is brought to the set. And though that was the only Dolls song to be heard tonight, she goes on to make her closing covers her own, and raise a very well decorated roof.

Material Girl, though an annoyingly brash Madonna anthem, is turned into a sneering attack on the Paris Hiltons of the world as Mandy (as I like to call her) slows down proceedings and adds some rather worse for wear party girls to the visual spectacle.

Paris Hilton?


And what else could follow that, but the incredible spectacle of Mandy and her cohort miming to Umbrella whilst shaking their pert behinds off. Complete with ukelele.



The ukelele remained the instrument of choice as a singalong version of Radiohead’s freaky cheek anthem Creep was given an enthusiastic airing as Mandy departed from the stage to weave through a dapper audience.


She’s singing.


But it was back to her grand piano to close a dazzling set with a tender I Will Follow You Into the Dark which made Death Cab sound like Fall Out Boy. And we got free candles.

I bet you’re thinking “Het Tom, that was a bloody excellent review that. So good in fact that I stopped breathing just so I could give reading my full concentration, so now probably have severe brain damage thanks to you. But I can’t help but feel there’s more to this evening of Miss Palmer?” And you know what, you’d be right. You lucky, lucky reader. So less breathing, more reading. Not this sentence you moron, the paragraph below.

Indeed, this was not the end of a wonderful evening of music. After leaving the tent, dear Mandy was whoring herself out (only for photos and autographs unfortunately) so I got this taken.

Yeah, I’m hot. Get over it.


And from there, I received word from my valuable music contacts, i.e. people on the street, that Mandy was doing another little set at my beloved Forest Cafe. So off I went with a hoppity skip to see the highlight of the evening.

Upstairs in the converted attic she was, to perform on a mighty organ some rare Dolls piece that chilled your very spine. From there, it was back to ukelele for another rendition of Creep, performed standing on the vacant seat that was directly in front of my own. Unfortunately, standing on this seat meant that her dress caught fire (I say ‘caught fire’, I mean it was burning a little bit) on the candle on the table, but luckily, I had the daring instinct to put out the (very few and small)flames with my hands. For I am great. Anyway, Creep was even better here as nobody had an ego and so everyone joined in unlike at the Spiegeltent where some people thought it would be cool to add their vocals, even the ‘You’re so fucking special’ bit. Twats.

Just moments before the fire tragedy.


What else to close the whole evening but a stripped down ukelele funk version of Umbrella? And it was fab. Even fabber than the mimed one in the tent. Mandy has a better voice than Rihanna you see. Fun it was. Most fun.

FUN! Most bands don’t remember to make their shows fun anymore. This disappoints.


I finish the review with two more photos because I really like them. The first because the fan just to Mandy’s right has the most wonderful expression. And the latter as it was when Mandy was with one of her lackeys just behind me and pashed him all over his face. And that made me happy.





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