"See that woman sitting with the laptop down the back?"
"That's Amanda Palmer, lead singer for the Dresden Dolls. She's got tattoed eyebrows, likes strong coffee, and..." He leaned over the counter with a glint in his eye and a huge grin on his face.
"...she's married to Neil Gaiman."
Now that was indeed cool. My inner book geek squeed with delight, while my outer self retained (I hope) its calm facade. I'd heard of the Dresden Dolls, and had read that Amanda Palmer was doing a gig for the Occupy Christchurch camp while in town, but Neil Gaiman needed no introduction, he's someone whose work we've both enjoyed many times over.
I thought nothing more of it until I got home from uni, when hubby announced that he'd got chatting with Ms Palmer later on that afternoon, and she'd put his name on the door for the gig that night.
Just so I didn't walk in totally blind to the musical experience we were about to encounter, I did a quick looksee on the interwebs and found their site. As soon as I read their bios (Amanda / Brian), and learned how they met & worked, I was hooked. The Dresden Dolls are a combination that clearly fizzes with chemistry, two talented and charismatic people who feed off each other when composing and performing. This was gonna be good.
From the stage of the Aurora Centre, Amanda described this as "the little gig that could", explaining how she'd originally been booked to play a gig at Al's Bar on February 22nd last year. She'd been about to board a plane in Napier when she got a text saying there had been an earthquake and not to bother getting on the flight south.
Almost a year later, she finally made it to town. Now, as we all know, there aren't really a lot of performance venues still standing around here these days, hence the high-school location. Still, many in the crowd needed little encouragement to leave their seats, get down the front and sway/boogie/groove to the sounds blasting forth from the dynamic duo.
Not me though... I've gone & done something to my back, and have aggravated a disc in my lower spine. So no partying for me at the moment. I'll just sit quietly with my cushion, up the back where I'm safe from the shoving crowds (1,2,3: awwwww! Yeah never mind, I'm sure I'll get better soon). The last concert I remained seated for was the Violent Femmes, when they played C-city's Theatre Royal back in the early 90's, when I was heavily pregnant with our first child. It seems somehow appropriate that the Dresden Dolls had just done a gig with the Femmes in Tasmania - now that would've been an awesome show. There's some vids on their facebook page (& a NSFW farewell to Tassie from Amanda!)
This was the song that got the biggest cheer from fans as soon as the opening bars played: Coin Operated Boy, the video for which was an early MTV favourite...
But it was another song they played that night that hit another of our old-school squee buttons, and had hubby singing along the entire way with gusto. A performance of Science Fiction Double Feature from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The lucky buggers in Auckland got treated to this version, featuring Richard O'Brien himself!
This is probably Hamilton's coolest claim to fame, the fact that Richard O'Brien lived, worked, and wrote RHPS there. We came across this Riff Raff statue in Hamilton when visiting last July - it stands on the former site of the Embassy Theatre, which used to host a 'Late Night Double Feature Picture Show'... and a barbershop, where a young Richard cut hair & dreamed of bigger things.
own website, and you can check out people following the dance instructions (or not) via webcam
So, we missed out on Richard, and we didn't have the Femmes, but we did get to see the Dresden Dolls perform live in Shakeytown. Ever since all this seismic shittery started, we've been determined to make the best of whatever comes our way, and this concert was totally worth a completely random, midweek trek to a school auditorium on the far side of town.
Rock on Shakeytown, for as the wise & wonderful Ms Palmer says, "music is a powerful, healing tool".