Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Amanda Palmer & Evelyn Evelyn @ The Academy, Dublin - Live Review

One of the victims of Volcanosaurus Rex last week was the live music circuit, with many touring bands being forced to cancel dates due to flight cancellations and the likes.

After finding herself in Iceland at the same time good old Eyjafjallajokull started blowing chunks, the chances of Amanda Palmer making it to Dublin for her scheduled Evelyn Evelyn gig began looking slim.

To make matters worse, the rest of the Evelyn Evelyn team and the equipment for the show were stranded in New York. The easiest thing to do would have been to cancel the gig, possibly re-schedule it for later in the tour, but Amanda wasn't prepared to throw in the towel that easily.

After making her way to Glasgow, she took the ferry across to Dublin and, using all her savvy (and the counsel of her Twitter 'followers'), pieced together a replacement show.

Evelyn Evelyn, if you're unfamiliar, are three-legged conjoined twins Evelyn and Evelyn Neville, 'discovered' by Palmer and musician Jason Webley over Myspace in 2007. After being coerced into the studio, Evelyn Evelyn recorded an album and, under the auspices of Palmer and Webley, are now hitting the road.

For the tour was that Palmer and Webley would fill in the support slots for Evelyn Evelyn but, in light of the circumstances, Palmer had to draft in a last-minute replacement. Brighton band Bitter Ruin jumped at the offer of supporting Amanda in Glasgow.

Having being so impressed by their performance, she persuaded them to come to Dublin. They jumped at the chance, despite the fact that they had to chug buckets after the gig, purely so they could afford to get home.

It was a good call by Amanda because Bitter Ruin were fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that they warrant a post all of their own.

Bitter Ruin - Chewing Gum (Dublin)

Shortly after Shane and I nabbed the last two Bitter Ruin EPs, Amanda took to the stage and shed some light on how the gig was going to go. Since her fellow 'conjoined twin' Jason Webley was stranded on the other side of the Atlantic, she decided to bring him to Dublin via the power of the internet and, after calling him on Skype, was able to project a huge image of his head on to a screen.

After hauling a motley crew of audience members up from the audience (as unofficial ambassador for freaks and geeks the world over, Palmer tends to attract an especially devoted fanbase) and bringing Bitter Ruin back on stage, Amanda began to describe what the Evelyn Evelyn show would be like if the various components had made it to Dublin.

With those on stage being used as substitute characters and performing puppet shows, Amanda and Jason worked their way through the Evelyn Evelyn set. Adding to the ridiculousness was the fact that the gig was being broadcast on the internet by a camera Amanda had borrowed from a Dublin fan.

Granted, at times, the performance bordered on shambolic as the performers grappled with the unorthodox set-up but, if anything, this only served to make the whole thing more enjoyable and it was obvious that Amanda and Jason had invested a lot of effort into resuscitating the show.

After Amanda performed a clutch of her own songs, including 'Oasis', 'Astronaut', 'Runs In The Family' and 'Girl Anachronism', she brought Georgia from Bitter Ruin back on stage for a duet on 'Delilah'.

The fact that the gig happened at all was both a testament to the power of the internet and a big 'up yours' to the volcano's attempts to prevent it happening. As such, it was sort of fitting that, as her encore, Amanda premiered a song she had written over the course of the previous 24 hours over the web with husband-to-be Neil Gaiman, called 'Fuck The Ash Cloud'.

Amanda Palmer & Bitter Ruin - Fuck The Ash Cloud (Dublin)

Based on Jason and Amanda's description, The Evelyn Evelyn show sounds wonderfully theatrical and I was a bit miffed not to see it as it was intended but, in a way, the show we saw in its place was probably far more memorable.

A prime example of somebody taking volcanic particles and making 'volcanade', this was a truly singular experience and has only served to deepen my appreciation for Ms. Palmer as an artist and, lame as it sounds, as a person.

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