I've has a visiting [livejournal.com profile] widgetfox this weekend, which was lovely, and we seem to have managed to fit in a lot of stuff while still having a relaxing time of it - and I have no idea how that happened.

On Thursday night we went round to Glasgow University's Queen Margaret Union to see Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. It was a memorable event, for quite a few reasons. First of all, my experience with the venue goes back 31 years, to the time when I pitched up there as a first year student. Last time I was there was about 20 years ago, to see The Fall with my brother. Unlike the other GU Union (originally there were separate Men's and Women's Unions - the QM was the women's union. This was important for all sorts of reasons when I joined back in 1981, and seems to be important for the same reasons now. But that's a post of its own) the disco/gig venue part of the building hasn't changed much. It was easy to remember skipping around the dance floor to Altered Images with my 16 year old girlfriend. I wonder if that 17 year old would recognise me?

[livejournal.com profile] widgetfoxand I installed ourselves in the balcony, and had a great view. Amanda Fucking Palmer was in great form. I think some of the kickstarter money has been spent on the tour, and the lights and projection worked well. The sound was good too, though I think AFP's vocal was too far back in the mix on the first couple of (very loud) numbers, which used the Hot Dog Horns for backing. The sound settled down after the band stripped back to the core four, and stayed excellent for the rest of the set. The new songs sat well alongside older AFP and Dresden Dolls songs - probably the highlights from her own songs were Oasis and Leeds United, with a fantastic bit of crowd surfing thrown in. There were two cover versions (three if you count "The St John's Infirmary") and both worked brilliantly for me. "The Chalet Lines" is one of Belle and Sebastian's most delicate, haunting songs. My first surprise was that AFP is such a B&S fan - you'd put them at opposite ends of any musical spectrum, if it weren't for the fact that AFP won't nail her rainbow to any part of any mast. It also surprised me that she could cover the song in such a delicate, trembling voice, accompanying herself on the ukulele, of all things. Her rendition had me in (manly, well disguised) tears.
The second cover was another surprise, which worked very well, Yazoo's "In My Room". If any of you are old enough to remember "Upstairs at Eric's", that was always the track that was furthest away from the joyful, dancey pop of the rest of the album (ok, not counting "Only You". And "Winter Kills". Ok, it was a pretty diverse album, wasn't it?). I actually saw Yazoo on their first tour, playing Tiffany's on Sauchiehall Street. Alison Moyet was clearly scared witless to be up on stage, but she carried off the songs well, and "In My Room" was a standout. Stark, minimal accompaniment, very little lighting, and a recitation of The Lord's Prayer for a backing tape. Amanda took all of those elements and added to them. Earlier in the gig she'd recorded herself cold reading notes that the audience had left in a box labeled "The worst thing that's ever happened to me in my bedroom". All of the notes were sad, to the extent that widgetfox said how clever it was for her to read them aloud, and how it transformed her performance of "The Chalet Lines" (a song about rape). Hearing them played back a second time, in the background, deepened the oppressive air of "In My Room" even more, and made it a very emotional moment. Not bad, for a 30 year old synth pop tune.

The concert ended with an encore on the balcony, which didn't work brilliantly (even through a megaphone, Amanda's voice was hard to make out over the horns) but it did give us a good close up view of them all.

A fantastic, uplifting night, and I'm sure I've missed out loads (including the support, sorry).

Hmm. I think this post is going to become a multi-parter. Next: Skyfall

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