Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amanda Palmer with the Boston Pops

On Friday I took a road trip up to Boston to see Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls play with the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra. It was an amazing show, and as a former violinist/orchestra dork myself, I absolutely loved seeing Amanda play with a full orchestra behind her. My one regret: I did not bring my camera because I assumed photography would not be allowed. And I had good seats too. I could've gotten some great pictures!

The first half of the show was the Boston Pops without Amanda. They played four movements of Gustav Holst's The Planets, which was very dramatic. Fittingly enough, it very much seemed like something that could be the score to a great space-themed adventure film, even though it was written in the early 1900s, before space-themed adventure films existed. I love watching full orchestras, and it's been a while since I have, so I enjoyed it immensely.

After the intermission, Amanda made her entrance. And it was quite the entrance. The orchestra started playing Missed Me (which is one of my favorite Dresden Dolls songs, so I recognized it immediately) and then she came in one of the side doors and through the audience. Then another door would open with a bright light and a tamborine player came out, then a violin player, then a trombone player in the balcony. And they were all playing kind of a game of cat and mouse. It was a lot of fun. Amanda was wearing a very pretty/sexy burlesque-type frilly skirt, corset, and jacket (which she promptly stripped off, inspiring the conductor to do so, as well).

She played a great variety of songs - songs from her upcoming solo album (produced by Ben Folds); a few Dresden Dolls classics such as Coin-Operated Boy, where she switched places with the conductor for a bit and they played off of each other a lot, which was awesome; a Ben Folds cover (Brick); a cover of What A Wonderful World; and a few showtunes, where she got up from her piano and performed Brechtian Punk Cabaret-style. The two showtunes were I Can't Say No from "Oklahoma" and Don't Tell Mama from "Cabaret." Both were hilariously well done and perfectly campy. The musical theater geek in me ate this up. She also pulled out all the stops with guest performers/back up singers/dancers, and Brian Viglione (drummer and the other half of the Dresden Dolls) came out for a few numbers, including the finale - another DD favorite of mine - Sing. All in all it was a very fun show, though I have to say that all of the songs she played off her new album were incredibly dark, particularly one about the Columbine shootings, which made me get a little teary-eyed.

After the show, The Dresden Dolls' friends The Luminescent Orchestrii played in one of the other rooms in Symphony Hall and it was a lot of fun. Everyone was merry and dancing and clapping. The Luminescent Orchestrii was full of energy as usual. A very small intimate space, but a perfect after party for a great concert.

Amanda and Brian were also outside after the show signing autographs and talking to fans, which was amazing. I tried not to be too "fan girl"-ish when I talked to them, but I'm sure I cam off sounding like a giddy high schooler. And they signed my program! Yay! (See the picture above.)

All in all, a spectacular evening. It was great fun getting dressed up and going out. It was also neat spending some time in Boston, as I've only ever really passed through before. If you ever go, I highly recommend you do a whale watching cruise. It was a-MAZ-ing! And I'll be writing a little more about my trip tomorrow for Minnesota Monday because I ran into a great Minneapolis band in Cambridge.

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