Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

We went to the Showbox last night to see Amanda Palmer and friends. They’re touring in support of the new album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? I first encountered Amanda’s work with the Dresden Dolls through the Legendary Pink Dots connection, but I haven’t seen her on stage for many years. From her DVDs and YouTube videos, I was prepared for a theatrical experience, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Oddly, the purely musical highlight wasn’t Amanda’s new songs, but the solo contribution of cellist Zoë Keating. She uses a foot-controlled computer to lay down complex delay loops that she can then sequence and play against; her cello becomes a complete string ensemble, with percussion. The effects are quite thrilling.
Other “friends” included The Builders and The Butchers, a band from Portland, OR that would have been excellent if their kick-ass energy and instrumental prowess had been applied to some songs that weren’t so similar (and uniformly depressing), and the Danger Ensemble, who provided theatrical interpretations of many of Amanda’s songs. (There was also a local guy whose name I forget, who improbably wowed the packed house with a drinking song, accompanied on accordion…)
Overall verdict: a bit uneven, but tons of fun. Check out the new album (and use it as an excuse to dig out the old Dresden Dolls stuff you haven’t listened to in a while).

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