CONCERT REVIEW: Amanda Palmer & The Danger Ensemble
November 29, 2008
Mr. Small's, Pittsburgh
Amanda Palmer promised an entertaining show, and she certainly delivered. Accompanied by Australian 4-person performance troupe The Danger Ensemble, who provided theatrical interpretations of many songs, Palmer provided a 2-hour set full of memorable moments, ranging from serious to silly.
Palmer played much of her debut album Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, and her voice sounded as strong as I've ever heard it. I've had some bad luck with Dresden Dolls shows in the past - it seemed that Palmer's voice was shot at pretty much every show I attended - but this was clearly not the case tonight. She sounded beautiful on "Ampersand," hitting the tricky falsetto parts with ease.
"Strength Through Music," a heartbreaking ballad inspired by the Columbine shootings, took on a new life as violinist Lyndon Chester read the names of several school violence victims at the beginning of the song. The power of the moment was obvious; you could hear a pin drop as Palmer hit the "tick tick tick tick" parts.
The intense "Runs in the Family" and the poignant "Have to Drive" were among the other highlights from WKAP. A few Dresden Dolls favorites showed up as well, including "Mrs. O," "Coin-Operated Boy" and my personal favorite, "Bad Habit."
Palmer gave her voice a rest on a few numbers, like when she joined the Ensemble for a lip-synched, choreographed version of "Guitar Hero," with Palmer striking rock star poses and pretending to play an electric guitar.
Amanda did quite a bit of chatting with the crowd, and accepted a few requests, giving in to the overwhelming demand for "Oasis." She stopped mid-song during a left-field cover of "Livin' On a Prayer" to point out an often-overlooked inconsistency in the lyrics - in the bridge, Bon Jovi sings, "It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not," but he later adds, "We'll make it, I swear." She theorized that perhaps the second "make it" refers to having sex.
The high point was unquestionably a stunning, set-closing "Half Jack." When performed with the Dresden Dolls, the song typically begins with 4 minutes of drumming insanity; here, with no drums, it was Palmer's keys and the violin of Chester that provided the song's power. It was a welcome reminder that the concert, despite its sideshow element, was still principally about Amanda's captivating music.
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