adventures, life, music, reviews, theatre

Amanda Palmer at Union Chapel

I love music, I believe the right song at the right time can change your entire perspective. As someone with partial hearing loss (it’s genetic and will get worse) I try to make the most of the music I can still hear.

Tonight I went to Union Chapel in Islington, a beautiful church that also hosts concerts, to see Amanda Palmer perform on her last tour before she becomes someone’s mother (she’s 6 months pregnant).

I saw Amanda there about 4 or 5 years ago and that was amazing, tonight was even better. The acoustics and ambience of the building add a certain something to the proceedings.

Amanda’s shows don’t feel like a gig, more like An Evening With , as she introduces acts and brings her friend on stage to sing with her.

Kicking off proceedings is the joyful noise of London band Perhaps Contraption – a combination of a brass band with a punk aesthetic. They are tremendous fun.

Then comedian Andrew O’Neill comes on and does some very funny one liners, reads out some hilarious rejection letters and introduces Amanda.

She stands in the pulpit and sings ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ unaccompanied, it is beautiful.

Then she descends to the piano to kick things off with ‘Astronaut’ and ‘Ampersand’ from her ‘Who Killed Amanda Palmer?’ album.

She talks about the previous night’s show – webcast live to Patreon subscribers, soon to be free to stream to everyone. She tells us tonight will be better as she can relax more. She takes requests from the audience, I ask for ‘I Google You’, but sadly there isn’t enough time to do them all. She performs some of them with her ukelele.

She reads a random extract from her book ‘The Art of Asking’, selected by an audience member, she talks about writing and her infamous Kickstarter.

Her special guest is drag performer and cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat, who is magnificent, funny, clever, joyous.

Then she brings her friend Whitney on and they do a Garfunkel and Oates song about how smug pregnant women are and a few Ask Amanda questions.

Then they do a Dresden Dolls classic – Delilah – I think I last heard her do this with Georgia from Bitter Ruin, it’s a great song.

There’s time for a Ben Folds cover and a riotous Leeds United featuring Perhaps Contraption, before the standing ovation.

The encore is a Kimya Dawson song and Ukelele Anthem.

Normally she stays and signs anything you like, but she’s pregnant, her feet are swollen and she hasn’t been off stage to pee once.

So, as this is technically a book tour, there’s a signing tomorrow evening in Waterstones.

I think it’s the relationship she has with her fans, old and new, that makes her shows feel more intimate, she’s joking and waving, knowing we’ll sing along, that we’re in on it, whatever it is.

I leave buzzing, music always seems to bring me alive a little more.

We walk to Kings Cross, down Pentonville Road, past the park where clown Joseph Grimaldi’s grave is sited, the evening faded and the wind picking up, talking about the show, about ideas it’s given us – things we’re mulling over.

The way you should be, electric from the crowd, from the rhythm. Not bad for a Tuesday.