Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman Stopped By Good Records For a Ninja Gig.
Right on the dot at 6 o'clock yesterday evening, Amanda Palmer began what would become an 80-minute show that included poetry, storytelling, poetry readings, singing, shouting and ukulele performance.
“It's six now,” the outspoken solo performer and half of Boston duo The Dresden Dolls said, sitting upon a stool placed on the AstroTurf stage of Good Records, with her husband and famed author, graphic novelist, screenwriter and poet, Neil Gaiman, seated at a table to her right. “So let's just start.”
It was an informal start to an informal offering — a last-minute-announced and free in-store performance, as Palmer has been in town mixing her upcoming album with the help of Oak Cliff superproducer John Congleton — but the crowd, which appeared to reach the store's capacity, treated it like much more.
And in many ways it was.
Palmer was in fine form, regaling in the obvious adoration from her audience, sharing stories about her recent trips to Australia, as well as inside jokes from her recent mixing sessions here in town. She laughed, she sang, she shouted and, yes, she even cried at once point.
The tears came toward the end of her offering, after she and the crowd urged Gaiman to offer up an impromptu reading of some poetry — a set that included a poem about monsters, a requested poem of his that an audience member had asked to be read at his wedding and a love poem to his quite literally blushing bride, who wiped away tears from her eyes as Gaiman read from his notepad.
Before reading the wedding poem, Gaiman spoke of the fact that his work is often interpreted in ways other than he intended.
“That's the great thing about art,” he said. “After you create it, it's not yours any more.”
It was a fitting sentiment for the evening's display.
Palmer, who rose to fame as a piano player, spent this performance singing along to her latest object of affection, the ukulele. She covered her own songs, twisting them to fit this new format, and performed a few other artists' songs, too, including Radiohead's “Fake Plastic Trees” (as heard on her 2010 album of just ukulele Radiohead covers) and a version of Rebecca Black's “Friday,” in which she changed the lyrics to represent the point of view of a truck stop hooker.
Later, she spilled some beans on the album she's completing with the “amazing” (her words) Congleton. She called it “giant,” “loud,” and “different,” and revealed the fact that it will feature a full band called the Grand Theft Orchestra backing her playing.
A perhaps even more interesting reveal: Dallas native Chad Raines is a member of said band, she said.
She ended the set with a performance of a song about her newfound ukulele affection called “Ukulele Anthem.” But, really, the night was hardly over.
Palmer and Gaiman remained in the store well after their joint performance concluded, signing autographs for the many fans that remained.
As was true of the entire appearance, it was a charming, unexpected and inspiring gesture.