Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Picture House, Edinburgh, Wed 17 Jul 2013 (4 stars)

Dark, crowd-diving thrills from the Daily Mail snubbing ex-Dresden Doll

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Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Picture House, Edinburgh, Wed 17 Jul 2013

Photo: Shervin Lainez

Where, oh where to begin? What highlights shall we zoom in on? Perhaps poet-punk Amanda Palmer’s surprise warm-up performance of ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ in the middle of the dancefloor with the mighty Horndog Brass Band after casually necking back a triple scotch from the bar? Or how about her wading through the audience during party starter ‘Do It With A Rockstar’ before breaking into Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ completely out of the blue and freely moshing out with the lively Edinburgh crowd some more? Or maybe the intimately soul baring delivery of the unofficially titled ‘Bigger on the Inside’, a song inspired by her attempts to power through one of the most challenging years of her life? There was unlikely to be a dry eye in the room at that point.

After her inspired retort-song to the Daily Mail's half-assed coverage of her Glastonbury performance had gone viral earlier in the week, anticipation was high for this date from the former Dresden Doll. The Grand Theft Orchestra’s bassist Jherek Bischoff and guitarist Chad Raines got things started, filling the support slots with their respective original material – Bischoff with the mesmerising compositions of his solo work and Raines with the ridiculously sexy synth-pop magic of his band The Simple Pleasure. Brighton’s gothic acoustic duo Bitter Ruin had only enough time to deliver their most defining song ‘Trust’ but they did it with as much conviction as if it were to end a full set.

With it being the last date of her postponed UK tour, Palmer’s voice was a little on the non-existent side at times – something she was happy to admit when she struggled to open ‘The Killing Type’ after several attempts. Perhaps a side effect of the scotch, or the way she nailed that blues cover, but still the woman who also happens to be Mrs Neil Gaiman continued like a trooper, belting out an array of fan favourites from both solo albums as much as her war torn vocal chords would allow. From the synth-driven sparkle of ‘Want It Back’, through the sweeping majesty of ‘Bottomfeeder’, to the intensely beautiful ‘Astronaut’, Palmer didn’t disappoint her seemingly increasing number and varying sorts of fans. So much so, there were even some Dolls treats in the form of a playfully extended ‘Missed Me’, a delightfully dark delivery of ‘Delilah’ with Bitter Ruin’s Georgia Train and a rebellious, curfew breaking ‘Girl Anachronism’ for the encore.

Contrary to what some may have been expecting due to recent events, Palmer did not strip off this time. Not in the literal sense, at least. But, as always, she left herself emotionally naked, letting her music almost deliver itself as she allowed the crowd to consume her words, her mind and her soul. In many ways, this is far more powerful than her Roundhouse stunt, but you won’t see the Daily Mail covering it any time soon, and thank goodness for that.

Horndog Brass Band & Amanda Palmer - St James Infirmary Blues

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