Chicago Theatre // Chicago, IL // April 12, 2019
“Amanda, I’m too sad!”
If you’ve ever seen Amanda Palmer solo or as part of The Dresden Dolls, you know that Amanda is an open book. She will talk to you about anything and everything in order to make you feel like you’re a part of the show and a part of her community. It’s one of the things I love most about her. But even I was surprised at how raw and vulnerable she’s let herself get on this tour. In honor of her newest album, There Will Be No Intermission, Amanda (aka Amanda Fucking Palmer, aka AFP), has been trying something new: a one-woman, completely acoustic tour in some of the fanciest venues across the country. Thanks to her Patreon subscribers and former Kickstarter backers she’s been able to independently release music for years now, and because of this, she doesn’t have to follow any rules from a record label. This has allowed Amanda to make whatever show she wants. Sometimes it can feel a little simple or unkempt, but this most recent show was neither. It was also my 11th time seeing her.
The show started with an audio introduction by her husband, writer and delightful human being Neil Gaiman. He warned the audience that there would be a lot of adult content, including intense discussion of rape, abortion, and death. Sounds like a classic Amanda Palmer show, honestly. Many of her songs discuss these topics, such as “Oasis”, “Mandy Goes to Med School”, and “Strength Through Music” respectively. But, unlike your standard concert where the artist plays songs and lets the audience digest the lyrics on their own terms, Amanda talked through everything. She started with her childhood and opened with “Judy Blume”, a tribute to one of her favorite authors. After that, she segued into “Runs in the Family”, a track from her 2008 album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. In between songs, she spent a very long time talking about relationships and the highs and lows she’d experienced in her nearly 43 years on this earth.
“I don’t want to be the abortion show, but that’s what’s happening right now”, Amanda said while talking about her son, Ash, and the times she decided to end a pregnancy before having him. During this period of the show, she smiled and told the massive theatre “if you’re feeling sad during this, I want you to scream ‘Amanda, I’m too sad!’ and I’ll play the opening chords to ‘Coin Operated Boy'”. Someone shouted twice, which was impressive considering how deep and raw the conversation got. “I reached 35 and really had to wonder if having children would add anything to my life,” Amanda said. Her honesty about children was incredibly refreshing, and she defended her decision to write about these topics. “It’s my job to make light [of dark moments],” she said when discussing criticism over her song “Oasis”.
Amanda played for three hours, talking through each of the happiest and saddest songs before promising to be back through Chicago as soon as possible. It’s amazing how she seems to reach every audience member whether in a massive, gorgeous theatre or in someone’s backyard. Having seen her in both settings, I can definitely say that Amanda Palmer loves her fans more than most artists, and she wants their input every step of the way.
Amanda Palmer’s tour continues on the West Coast before heading to the South. Tickets and more info can be found HERE.