On Saturday I saw Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at the Concorde 2 in Brighton and from the moment they left the stage, I knew I was going to have to write something about it. At first I thought a short tweet would suffice, many people claim seeing Amanda Palmer perform is a life changing experience of love and hugs and understanding. I didn’t get that.
Soon, the tweet didn’t feel like enough, a seed of feeling was planted and was growing into something that needed to get out.
I used to be majorly on the fence in my opinion of Amanda Fucking Palmer (AFP). Musically, I’ve liked her work for some time (I accidentally caught a few songs of her set as part of The Dresden Dolls at Download Festival in 2005) but I always read her personality as being a little false, a little too much and maybe trying to hard just to be herself. I backed the Theatre Is Evil kickstarter, I defended the campaign when people said she had no right, I cried the first time I heard The Bed Song and I felt for her as signs of depression crept into her twitter feed. But I never felt like I would like her if we knew each other.
I have seen passionate performances, I have seen enthusiastic performances, I have seen performances which have ripped my heart out and shredded it and I have seen performances which have felt truly personal and intimate.
I have never before seen a performance which has made me feel so included.
I think it really started during ‘Bottomfeeder’ when Ms Palmer crowdsurfed wearing a jacket with a train that covered the entire crowd, turning us into part of the music, part of the art. I knew she’d got to me when she surfed over our heads, just out of reach for me to be part of the support and I felt disappointment, a second later her knee was next to my face and I helped hold her up. Such a little thing but it felt so big at the time.
There were songs I wish I’d heard that night. I wanted to hear The Bed Song and Trout Heart Replica because those resonate most deeply with me. I understand love and depression and hopelessness. Instead we heard a song whose title I can not find, perhaps it is called ‘Bigger on the Inside’ which appears (to me) to be mainly about loss. I am lucky, I haven’t dealt with a lot of loss so I’m less in touch with that part of myself. It’s still a beautiful, heart wrenching song, it’s just not the one that haunts me.
The bonus was hearing Map of Tasmania. God, I love that song.
I wish we’d been able to stay and hang out on the beach afterwards but a 2 hour drive lay ahead of me and I was already tired.
I now know that I like Amanda Palmer as a musician and a person. I feel like I get her now. I should stop projecting my own failings as a person on to other people.
If Amanda Palmer ever comes to the UK again, you can bet that I will be there.