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Live show review: An evening with Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman

Ever since I laid eyes on Neverwhere, a staple of science fiction literature, I was completely hooked on Neil Gaiman’s work. Later came the appreciation of comic books and with it Gaiman’s Sandman series. If you’re a fan of gothic fiction in any way, shape or form then you most likely understand my appreciation and admiration for the man’s work.

Amanda Palmer’s talents came into view when the song “Coin-Operated Boy” made it’s way onto my playlist many years ago. While the Dresden Dolls don’t exactly exist at the moment, Palmer’s music has continued on in one form or another. Last I saw her she was part of the odd side-show like group Evelyn Evelyn where she and Seattle’s own Jason Webley were siamese twins that rarely spoke and only sang while playing one hand each on the piano. It was odd but fantastic and we were delighted by performances of each musician individually as well.

Regardless, every show I’ve heard of or seen involving Amanda Palmer is fascinating, beautiful and strange. You never know what you’re going to get, a mystery of they best kind. Last Wednesday the show at The Moore Theatre was no exception to this rule as Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer and a whole plethora of their talented friends graced the stage. Why would Gaiman and Palmer come as a pair? It seems an unlikely match, an author and musician, for a tour. The two were married less than a year ago and apparently decided this was the next step in their relationship. As Amanda mentioned near the end of the show, “It was a challenge to our relationship, but definitely brought us closer together.” That kind of intensity would either bring you together or rip you apart. From what the audience witnessed Wednesday, they’re not separating anytime soon. The show was practically one big love letter from one to the other.

I must admit, seeing Neil Gaiman in person reading his works aloud was probably one of the biggest thrills of my life. However, that was only but a morsel of the evenings goings on. Events ranged from the typical musical performances from Palmer and a few guest musicians to a full-on burlesque dance. The musical guests included Seattle’s Led to Sea frontwoman Alex Guy, Jonathan Coulton (borrowed from the They Might Be Giants show in Sodo) and her former partner Jason Webley. Based on these performances alone, I’m sure the entire audience would have been plenty satisfied with the show if it had stopped right there.

That is not, however, where things ended. During the latter part of the evening Gaiman and Palmer sat on a lush purple couch behind two old-style microphones and answered questions provided by audience members. Questions selected include “What differences have you found between British and American lifestyles?” and “What has been your best and worst parts of the tour?” They took everything in good spirits even when fans heckled or simply yelled disruptive responses throughout the show. They’re both tongue-in-cheek type people with a mean streak that only comes out when they need it.

One of the best, and most personal moments of the evening came at the very end when Amanda decided to celebrate her new husband’s birthday right on stage. She had him blindfolded, of course the audience yelled out random things to throw him off as he sat alone on stage (I just felt sorry, but he seemed to take it in stride), and ran off stage to change. Moments later she came back donning a long sparkly and very demure (for her anyway) gown. She began singing a Brooklyn-accented rendition of “Take Back Your Mink” from Guys and Dolls to the crowd’s delight. She then proceeded to rip off the dress to reveal a more typical Amanda Palmer outfit, black lingerie complete with garters. She was then swiftly followed by several scantily clad dancers who proceeded to blow kisses and perform synchronized high kicks a-la Rockettes. As a final “surprise present” to her new hubby each girl gave him a smooch on the lips just before walking off-stage.

As you can imagine, it was an unforgettable show. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, well… each attendee had to decide that for themselves.

Morgen Schuler

Morgen Schuler

Morgen Schuler, a writer and photographer in Seattle. She was the former music editor at Seattlest and is the co-founder of Inside Right Wrist.