REVIEW: Amanda Palmer debuts new song at mystery show, The Bridge, Cambridge, MA (6/14/09)

If you’re following boxofboom on Twitter, you might have read that I did end up winning tickets for Amanda Palmer’s mystery show last night in Cambridge, MA, which was actually held in a performance space in a recording studio called The Bridge in Davis Square.  The space itself was very small (and subsequently stifingly hot) with just a tiny stage and not much else in the room. Amanda ended up inviting people to just come sit around her on stage during her set which helped create some extra space in the room, and made an already intimate gig that much more personal. It’s that feeling of camaraderie and spontaneity that makes Amanda Palmer’s performances so extraordinary.

The email sent out to ticket winners about the show said still photography would be OK but “please no video because Amanda will be playing very rough/unfinished new stuff and we’d prefer it not hit YouTube and what-have-you just yet.” Amanda reiterated that request before playing a new track, “The Bed Song,” which was truly gorgeous and seriously might end up being one of my favorite songs by her. It’s a real heartbreaker of a breakup ballad with a beautiful, fluttering piano riff in the chorus. Amanda said it’s not totally finished until she ”figures out how to play it,” and though she did need to stop during the first verse to remind herself how it went,  it definitely sounds complete. The full setlist was:

Lua (Bright Eyes cover)

Dear Old House That I Grew Up In



Trout Heart Replica


Guitar Hero

Strength Through Music

I Google You

The Bed Song

Girl Anachronism

Though “Australia,” ”Dear Old House,” and “Trout Heart Replica” have all been performed (and uploaded to YouTube from various shows) this was my first time ever hearing any of them and a perfect introduction. “Guitar Hero” in particular was really intense with Amanda pounding out the guitar parts on her keyboard.

During a few points throughout the show, she took “Ask Amanda” questions submitted before the show, including one about whether she thinks being so happy/in love with author Neil Gaiman will change either of their writing styles. She answered that she doubts it for her writing since even some of her darkest material was written during times when she was really happy, but said that she thinks Neil’s might since a lot of his writing is about “escaping” to some fantasy and joked that now she is that fantasy. Local band Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys opened for Amanda,  the band and a small circus troupe of performers crowded on to the small stage. The band’s goth-influenced folk songs were intriguing, though lead singer Walter Sickert seemed obscured by the useless clutter of circus performers on stage when he should have been the focus.  A hackneyed interpretive dancer dominated the front of the stage with her kicks and spins, while a woman in a bunny mask plucking petals from a bouquet of flowers sat on the side of the stage throughout the entire set. It was completely trite, and I’m sure that was at least partially the point, but ultimately distracting and so unnecessary for a band with a foundation of solidly performed music that could clearly speak for itself.