An Evening with Amanda Fucking Palmer @ Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, 17 Aug

Amanda Palmer floats like a feather in the beautiful world of The Fringe and gives us an intimate peek at an artist and their vulnerability

Review by Paul Sinclair | 20 Aug 2018
  • Amanda Palmer

A queue of people line the street outside The Queen's Hall on this sunny Edinburgh evening, eagerly waiting for the venue to open its doors and let them in to witness one of the more highly acclaimed songwriters of modern times, Amanda Palmer. By the time the doors eventually swing open the line is almost bordering The Meadows, a sign that the audience clearly decided to arrive early so as not to miss a moment of this mammoth three-hour show.

As the lights darken and the crowd applaud, Palmer struts onstage, arms flung in the air. Rocking a ukulele, she opens with In My Mind and from the first word uttered her loyal fanbase are enamoured – for many, it seems, this is going to be a special evening; “So I got a three-star review last week [saying] the show is only for hardcore fans…" she says, "if there are any people here from other review sites, I don’t care.”

And with that, she sits behind a grand piano to revisit her Dresden Dolls days, for the only time this evening, with their cult classic Coin-Operated Boy which receives an excited cheer from the crowd. From here the evening is filled with intimate, heartbreaking, intense and funny stories from Palmer allowing all of us an insight into each song. There is laughter and tears as she speaks of multiple break-ups, abortions and facing mortality.

Announcing what she's calling a “palate cleanser,” Palmer explains that if at any point anyone gets too sad we can stand up and shout, “Amanda! I can’t take it anymore!” as a wild card. Immediately, a small voice from the back of the room exclaims: “Amanda… I’m sad” and Palmer jumps to her feet, fetches her ukulele and walks into the crowd, performing a haunting yet somewhat uplifting version of Radiohead’s Creep, the crowd singing along in hushed tones.

The bar is still bustling when we return from a short intermission and people are still taking their seats when Palmer returns to the stage. “I admire your dedication,” quips Palmer, referencing those choosing alcohol over the show. 

Surprise special guest Kelly Ann Doll, a burlesque dancer and part of the Midnight Marauders show at the fringe, takes to the spotlight to discuss the anguish and difficulties she experienced as a younger woman. Everyone is hushed as she discusses a previous life of escorting, stripping and bad relationships. She finishes her short appearance with a risqué burlesque performance which whips the crowd into a whooping frenzy.

Closing the show, Palmer reminds us that we're all going to die and jokingly calls parts of the evening “a bit of a shitshow” before announcing that she'll begin recording her next album in the next couple of weeks. Before the final song she encourages everyone to check out her Patreon (an online service in which fans can donate different amounts of money per month) before closing with The Ride, reminding us all that 'Life’s just a ride, and you've got the chance to get off any time that you like.'

As Palmer herself mentioned, this show had been described as “for die-hard fans” in a previous review. Whilst this performance is an endurance test, the performance is exactly what a person would expect to see at the largest arts festival in the world. The evening is filled with emotion, with laughter, solemn tones and humorous stories. Hardcore fans are indeed catered for here, but anyone taking in this show will be drawn in by the stories and drama of the evening. Tonight is an intimate peek at an artist and her vulnerability; from the die-hard Amanda Palmer fan to the art lover, there is something here for everyone… unless you don't like sad songs, in which case, in Palmer’s own words, “You’re fucked.”

http://amandapalmer.net/