Nothing gets a venue like the Forum going quite like a cult following. The crowd last night was young, punk, and star-struck: Amanda Palmer had them in the palm of her artistic hand.
Palmer, voice of the Dresden Dolls, is a favourite with Australian audiences. She’s eclectic, creative, genre-defying and used to playing to sell out crowds. Last night was nothing if not an exercise in just how much excitement one woman and a keyboard can generate. Granted, she had friends, including an exceptionally talented string quartet lead by Lynden Chester; even Paul Kelly appeared for a sing-along.
This tour is still in support of Palmer’s debut solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer, produced by Ben Folds and released in 2008. She also added some new songs and mentioned she would be back in the studio very soon. Palmer is a kooky gal with an eclectic mix of styles and a lyrical acuity that peers deep into all those places others fear to dread. Last night controversial songs like Oasis sent the crowd into fits of rapture. Palmer played several crowd favourites, beginning the set with some old Dresden Dolls numbers, including hits like the Lolita-esque Missed Me, but leaving the best known Coin Operated Boy for the end of the set.
Palmer is something of an all-things Aussie fan, especially of our fair city, quoted at the SLAM rally on Tuesday saying: "You can feel the pulse of this city, it beats with art and love." A generous and astute performer, she took questions from the crowd and handled a technical hiccup with panache and wit.
Palmer’s support acts, whom she introduced herself (in a weird gold kaftan that thankfully gave way to a t-shirt, wide belt and skinny jeans) were also a treat. The Jane Austen Argument, coming out first, were an ultra talented hybrid of Tori Amos and Tim Minchin and I would’ve happily sat through many more than the two songs they played. They were followed by Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, a cabaret act of the darkest proportions, whose driving force is the exploration of death and all of its joys, sorrows and weirdnesses. With lyrics like “Sodomy is not just for animals and human flesh is not just for cannibals” you can’t not be impressed on some macabre level. The handsomely coiffed Mikelangelo has an extraordinary voice and seems to be incarnating Topol, Fagan and Edgar Allen Poe all at the same time. They were a great lead-in to the eccentric Ms Palmer.
One of the highlights of the evening was witnessing Palmer’s extraordinary generosity in sharing with the crowd a ‘new song’ she’d written the night before, just for her Aussie fans. And what a song it was: an as yet untitled diatribe against vegemite. Described as “death-paste” and with lyrics like “Vegemite tastes like batteries, arses and acid”, she would want to be in a room full fans.
Venue: The Forum Theatre, Melbourne
Date/Time: 8pm Friday 26 February
Bookings: Ticketek 132 849 | www.ticketek.com.au
26 Feb - The Forum Theatre Melbourne, Victoria
4 Mar - Spiegeltent Adelaide, South Australia
7 Mar - Sydney Opera House Sydney, New South Wales
8 Mar - A & I Hall Bangalow (Byron Bay), New South Wales
10 Mar - The Zoo Brisbane, Queensland