Impulsive Review of the A.F.P. 11/17/12 Show By R.J. Huneke
Recall the ballots, because Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra are storming the US of A, and need to be written in for the Presidency ASAP.
In her hometown of Boston, Amanda Palmer’s final show of the 2012 “Theater is Evil” tour shook the doors off of the sold out Paradise Lounge and left a floored audience wondering if they would ever see such raw artistry and awe-inspiring musicianship again.
The eclectic punk-influenced rock goddess had nearly canceled concerts earlier in the week as she battled illness and laryngitis, but Palmer stood strong and energetic as she introduced the first of three opening acts, The Grand Theft Orchestra’s bassist extraordinaire Jherek Bischoff and an army of stringed instruments that proceeded to intricately weave a string slapping rock-orchestra meld of finely woven melody and pulsing rhythms.
The GTO guitarist, Chad Raines, brought out his band and screaming axe to rile up the teeming crowd, and his wife and child danced alongside Amanda Palmer as the funky mix warranted vigorous movement.
And when Amanda Palmer finally took the stage with her bandmates, her primed piano, her wild leaps into the crowd, and her soulful, at times blaring, and scintillating singing the Paradise shook with swaying fans.
Hell hath no fury like the uber-talents of drummer Michael Mcquilken, bassist Jherek Bischoff, and guitarist Chad Raines whose backup vocals, leaping, and slamming his axe’s strings ferociously commanded attention with both the edgy guitar lines and his sheer stage presence.
Amanda Palmer’s support of local musicians continued – as it had all tour – as many local and talented horn and stringed players received moments to shine in the opening acts and then again on stage with Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.
A deep vibrancy resonated through “Bottomfeeder” and “Do it with a Rockstar” but the late night cover of “Careless Whisper (I’m never gonna dance again)” with saxophone 80’s duo Ronald Reagan filled the auditorium with a sound that has never been heard before. This was the third show in three nights and everyone was prepared to leave it all out on the floor. The listeners were moved, brought to laughs, tears, and cheers, and all-around rocking.
But Amanda Palmer is and always will be the gracious and humble star and appeared HUGE on this evening. She may love the limelight, but rarely does one get to see such an uncovered and unguarded look into a person’s talents without ego getting in the way.
Despite Palmer’s voice being all but gone when she spoke between songs (during the tunes her belting out of notes, screams, and long held words were fantastic), the talented singer and songwriter could not stop thanking her fans for their love and support that helped make “Theater is Evil” crack the Billboard Album Chart Top 10 upon its release.
The new record was Kickstarter funded without any commercial backing, as the media and corrupt commercial music industry were bypassed by the genius of the Grand Theft Orchestra and their many friends. With it, Amanda Palmer has made her finest album to date, captured the sound that she dreamed and foresaw, and claimed the motto for her and her fellow music connoisseurs: “We Are the Media.”
Before playing the sombre and powerful “Bed Song," Palmer addressed the crowd and explained that her and husband Neil Gaiman had just bought a bed for their new home together and the marriage-estranged ballad was the opposite of their own fairy-tale relationship – filled with emotion, she broke down talking to the group before her as though they were her closest friends.
After numerous finales of variously fun instances of raucousness, Amanda Palmer took the stage alone and spoke to a camera in the crowd: she had one more song for all of her fans and for one in particular, who was too sick from cancer treatment to make the Boston show on Thursday night and would receive the song via video.
The final song of the night was “Hallelujah” and Amanda Palmer’s slow, resonant, and heartfelt singing brought a sense of rebirth to an age-old tune that has never been touched upon in such an innovative and beautiful way. Near the end as the chorus sailed over myriad ears, her voice began to crack on the fringe of the word H-A-L-L-E-L-U-A-H, but she willed the long-held notes to continue graciously onward overpowering her body's objections. It was clear that this performer, artist, songwriter, singer, and fellow human being was giving absolutely everything she had to extend the shared climax of this meaningful artistic experience. She finished as she started, strong, and it was utterly inspirational.
On November 17, 2012, I witnessed the most meaningful and amazing show of my life, and I do not know how anyone – save A.F.P. herself – could top this night’s performance.
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