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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Dresden Dolls at the Theatre of the Living Arts

Dresden Dolls w/ Luminescent Orchestrii and Meow Meow

Theatre of the Living Arts (The Fillmore)

Philadelphia, December 28, 2007

Tonight was the second night of the Dresden Dolls’ two-week mini-tour and, without a new album to promote, the band felt free to experiment with unusual covers and lesser-known material. They came on stage dressed in fascist military caps and opened with Pink Floyd's “In the Flesh,” with drummer Brian Viglione hammering away with ferocious intensity, breaking two sticks in the process.

After moving on to tried-and-true favorites from their self-titled record like “Girl Anachronism” and “Missed Me,” they brought out Sxip Shirey from opening act Luminescent Orchestrii (whom I recently interviewed) and played an unorthodox but thoroughly enjoyable cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right (To Party),” with Viglione singing and playing electric guitar, Shirey playing the melodica (a small instrument that looks like a hand-held toy piano), and singer Amanda Palmer playing drums.

Palmer’s voice was a bit ragged, which she attributed to the flu, and that was partly to blame for “Delilah” and “Half Jack” not quite reaching their full potential. Both were underwhelming as they reached what are typically soaring climaxes. “Mrs. O” and “Mandy Goes to Med School” felt a bit too slow, but the latter was livened up by some guest piano work from Lance Horne. For the encore, the Dolls brought out the entire Orchestrii and joined them for a high-energy cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”

The Orchestrii’s opening set was a rock-solid mix of Eastern European and Jewish music, which got the less-timid members of the sold-out crowd dancing. The opener, “Taraf Hijacked,” didn’t go over very well for some reason, but the new hip hop-influenced song “Nasty Tasty” was a highlight, with humorous lyrics about their favorite foods.

Meow Meow, the evening’s first act, was part cabaret singer, part comedian, and part talk show host. She brought fans onstage and engaged them in witty banter, then demanded the audience crowd surf her back to the bar so she could have a shot. Her endearing act ended too soon, but as she said her goodbyes, she remarked, “You can write about me on your blogs!”


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