Image by Allan Amato
Words by Zack Anthony Curran
Amanda Palmer at Hamer Hall, Melbourne 22 January 2020
I first became aware of Amanda about 15 years ago when she was in The Dresden Dolls but I hadn't caught her life until a few weeks ago at the Woodford Folk Festival. She was intense, intimate and intriguing in her short festival set and I was eager to see more.
When I saw she was coming to Hamer Hall in Melbourne I was keen to see her flesh out a full-length show... And flesh it out, she did.
Palmer delivered an incredibly raw FOUR HOURS of not quite cabaret, not quite a gig, not quite open therapy session. It was four hours of philosophy, really.
Hamer Hall was full of a super diverse crowd of very loyal fans but it was easy to spot the first-timers. Palmer isn't for everyone and as we found out in the first few minutes, her show was an open book of her heart, and the heart doesn't lie.
Amanda told vivid stories of love and loves lost. She fearlessly graced the stage and gifted us with tales and tunes of death and grief, contraception, conception, abortion, miscarriage and birth. She didn't shy away from tough subjects like rape, drug addiction and terminal illness.
You could say the show was dark and heavy going but there is something in the way Amanda holds herself and in turn us as the audience that makes it enjoyable. I feel like I've known her my whole life.
The biggest takeaway for me was when she told the story about when she wrote a song which got produced by Ben Folds.
At 17, she was date raped at a party and she decided to get an abortion. Years later as a way of dealing with the trauma she wrote a song about it. When it was released she got some super judgemental reviews and one feminist journalist said she was glorifying date rape.
Actually, the journalist missed the point. It wasn't a glorification, it was irony, and that's what great art is, Palmer explained. She was an artist and she considers it to be her job to reach into the darkness and shed even just a little bit of light. "Let me do my job," she said. I couldn't agree more.
Palmer was one of the first artists to crowdfund an album. She has a loyal and engaged fanbase, many of whom are members of her Patreon, which is like a subscription service that allows people to directly support artists they care about. She is author of the best selling book "The Art of Asking" and has toured the world telling stories and singing songs.
A night with Amanda Palmer is an intense experience. You will laugh and you will definitely cry but you will walk away with a warm feeling that you are just a brain in a body floating through life trying to do the best that you can without being an arsehole.
I highly recommend.