Sweat and glitter - Amanda Palmer in Paris
A little over a year ago, I didn't even know who Amanda Palmer is. I may have come across the name in passing, but I had no idea which type of music she makes or that she used to be in a band called the Dresden Dolls (which I may also have come across in passing). Too bad that I can't remember how I came across her - now legendary - Kickstarter campaign. I must have liked what I saw, since I spontaneously decided to back it. And the rest, as they say, is history.
You've probably heard it all before: The most successful music-related Kickstarter campaign to date, the TED talk (which I gushed about elsewhere), etc. etc.
Now I wanted to see (or is that "experience"?) what it is to attend one of her concerts. Would it live up the expectations? And so, on a hot summer day in early July, I found myself heading to Paris, for a few days of vacation that were to kick off with attending an Amanda Palmer concert.
Her famous fan following was in full swing way ahead of the concert. For example, Anne @acousson had suggested a pre-gig picnic, just below Sacre Coeur. About 30 people showed up eventually, representing an interesting sample of the Amanda Palmer fan base: Parisiennes, Germans, Austrians, Australians and a few other nationalties I already forgot. For some (like me), it was to be the first concert. Others had seen her before - and two of them had even been helping out as stand-ins (sing-ins?) at Amanda's last Paris concert, where she had lost her voice and couldn't really sing.
Beverages, food, and glitter were passed around until it was time for the show. And so our small glittered-up group headed to the nearby venue, La Cigale.
First impression: Nice, not too big, in the style of a theatre (some seats in the back as well as on the - unused tonight - upper balcony). Standing room only in front of the stage. It was already very hot inside and didn't get any better as the room began to fill. Oh well, we were going to sweat a lot anyway, so why not start early?
The show started when Amanda showed up in a kimono by the balustrade at the side and gave a rendition of Creep on the Ukulele. She then handed things over to Jherek Bishoff up on the stage, who showed us what he can do with the bass and yet another ukulele. Next up were The Simple Pleasure, effectively a duo featuring the GTO's guitar player and a female friend. And then, as a sort of surprise guest, Bitter Ruin got to play one song. They're only going to "offcially" join the tour for the UK leg, but I'm glad they were here. Georgia Train has such an amazing voice, which we also got to hear again later in the show when she sang a duet with Amanda.
After a short pause, it was AFP time. The first song was Do It With A Rock Star and Amanda didn't stay up on the stage for long - she came down into the audience and continued singing from there for a while. She was already drenched in sweat by the end of that song and if you weren't, you'd be soon, since she wasn't going to slow down. I forget the exact order of the songs, but who cares? Amanda had her audience in a frenzy in no time, all happily jumping, clapping and singing along.
Things did only slow down occasionally, e.g. for The Bed Song, but most of the time, it was full speed ahead, with a few cover songs thrown in for good measure. The End seemed to come too soon. Two encores only delayed the inevitable a little longer. When the lights went back on, the happy faces all around needed no further comment.
Within a few minutes, Amanda was already in the middle of a crowd again, this time at the small booth next to the entrance, where she took her time signing whatever was offered to her - albums, tickets, tshirts, body parts, you name it - and patiently listening to what her fans had to say. Yes, she really does her best to get in direct contact with her fans.
Side note: I got quite a few irritated looks on the metro back to the hotel - must have been the glitter that was still all over my face :)
Greetings from Paris.