Amanda Palmer Slays L.A.

Amanda Palmer plays Radiohead, by me. Bigger with a click.
Amanda Palmer plays Radiohead on the beach, by me. Bigger with a click.

Amanda Palmer is ostensibly on vacation. After nearly a year of touring in support of her album “Who Killed Amanda Palmer,” she is taking some much deserved time off. Of course, time off for Amanda means playing shows at the Troubadour (last night) and hosting occasional Tweet-ups on the beach for friends and fans.

Often the venues that Amanda plays are 21+ or 18+, so her younger fans don’t get a chance to see her perform or interact with her. She uses Twitter to alert fans to what amounts to flash mobs in public spaces: “LA ninja beach gathering is going to be a winner. today, 4 pm, hermosa beach @ end of 16th street. bring flowers, ninja clothes.” And the fans happily obey, as evidenced in my photo set from that afternoon. (Careful. Amanda is very, shall we say, “free?” A few of the pics in that set, while tasteful, are NSFW.)

Amanda tweets and a hundred people show up at random locations on a few hours notice. One reason for that is her unusually deep connection to her fans. The marketing benefit for “Amanda Palmerâ„¢” seems to be a pleasant, almost unintended consequence of who Amanda Palmer really is. They heap adoration on her, but more importantly she’s very open with them, and genuinely loves them back.

Click past the jump for more on one of the best shows in L.A. this year.

Amanda Palmer at The Troubadour, by me. Clickably gigantified.
Amanda Palmer at The Troubadour, by me. Clickably gigantified.

Never one for a standard walk-on entrance, Amanda Palmer began the show (video) last night with her ukelele in the balcony of the Troubadour. She then moved down to the keyboard at center-stage and thrilled the sold-out audience with a two-hour set that shook the beams holding up the Troubadour’s roof. Amanda is a powerful pianist who pounds the keys with authority.

Palmer’s shows usually include a feature known as “Ask Amanda.” Fans write questions on cards gathered in a basket before the show, which she then answers randomly from the stage. Yet another way that she connects on a more personal level with her fans, Palmer never seems to shy away from any question whether it relates to her relationship with her current record label (really bad) or her relationship with her current love interest, author Neil Gaiman (really good.)

Amanda commented during the show that it’s challenging to choose which songs to play. She’s performed in L.A. a number of times over the last couple of years, and she wants to keep the set list fresh. Last night’s show included several songs from her latest solo album, favorites from her band The Dresden Dolls dating back to their not-so-widely-known first live album, and even a few cover songs.

Opening act Jenny Owen Youngs joined Amanda on stage for a duet of one of Youngs’ songs. Later in the show Amanda played a Tegan & Sara cover for the enthusiastic crowd. During an obviously emotional introduction, Amanda said that she wanted to play a Michael Jackson song in tribute, then played a beautiful, moving rendition of “Billie Jean” (video.) Amanda’s final song of the evening was perhaps the most emotive version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that I have ever heard. It was the perfect ending to what I expect to be one of the best shows I’ll see this year.

As she is planning to do some (pleasure) traveling with her time off, Amanda Palmer may not be performing in L.A. again for a while. At the beach gathering on Tuesday she did say she may tour in the fall, so you might catch her here then. If you’re going to be in San Diego for Comic-Con, I definitely recommend getting tickets for Amanda’s show at The San Diego Woman’s Club on July 24. It will be a benefit show for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, also featuring Vermillion Lies. That show will surely sell out quickly, so get ’em soon.

If you’re not familiar with Amanda Palmer, check out her music and her blog. If you’ve never seen her live, do so as soon as possible. She may change your perception of what a fantastic live performance really is.