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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Asking: Amanda Palmer, Queen's Hall Edinburgh 2015

Hello again! This isn't such standard blog fare for me, but I'm getting better at informing you guys with what's going on in my life. Bear with me.

My course officially finished on friday! At least, for the summer. I went to see Mad Max to celebrate, then headed off to Edinburgh to join the long line of awkward and excited looking teenagers attending Amanda Palmer's gig at the Queen's Hall.

I've been a fan of AFP's for a couple of years now; I've not been the most attentive one, and my love's fluctuated over that period of time (most notably when I put myself off her music by overplaying it during a particularly rough period in my second year of medical school), but it's always been humming away in the background. Reactions when I mention this fondness vary from solidarity to ignorance to an eye roll accompanied by the statement 'of course you do' - thanks, Lewis - but it's never been something people are surprised by, not like if I mention one of my favourite bands is ABBA or that I like knitting.

I had some mixed and bumpy feelings regarding this gig, from the mundane to the serious. My face was having a zit break out. I was in a slightly dazed mood for most of the day (hello, low blood sugar). There was some skepticism about what kind of a gig this would be; I was wanting the kind of sonic and physical catharsis to end the year that you only get at a wild rock show, which wasn't likely to happen in Queen's Hall with a tired, pregnant lady. I was also, most notably, unhappy about her announcement that Caitlin Moran, author and unfortunate example of transphobia and racism in feminism, would be supporting her on some of her tour.

(I find it strange that not one person has brought her occasionally questionable ethics up when talking about AFP's faults with me - which many people do, but it tends to focus around her narcissism to an almost bizarre extent. I always point out well what do you expect of a front woman?, but then it's easier to pick fault with something that women are not supposed to possess - arrogance - compared to something which is ingrained within our culture - privilege.)

But she came on, opened on the piano with Astronaut, and I lost my shit. I saw her back in 2012 for the 'An Evening With Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman' tour in the same hall, coincidentally, and she was even better this time around; there was an intensity in her performance which really blew me away, and her set list was spot on. I cried like a baby at Bed Song (when do I not?), so I can take back what I said about any lack of catharsis. She joked a lot about her upcoming birth, and how she didn't want to become 'boring' as a parent and start writing songs about sunsets and fields. I was mixed about her choice of comedian in Janey Godley - from personal experience, men are not simple creatures, no matter what she says about sex, sausages, and sharks - but there were some belly laughs to be found there, as well as in her rendition of Pregnant Women Are Smug and Vegemite. 

I was a lot better the following day when I went to the book signing -  I no longer hated my face! - and waited nearly two hours to get my friend's book and my ticket signed. Seeing her up close was odd; she looked a little tired - I also think she was a little off between songs on the show, something in hindsight I wonder if was due to her close mentor Anthony Martignetti announcing yesterday that his cancer had returned. She signed our possessions though and accepted a copy of a friend's new zine which I had promised to pass on, let me touch her and pose with her, and hopefully didn't find the way I was staring at her creepy (it's a little odd to see someone famous in the flesh).

She also had oily skin. No judgement in that observation, but it was oddly comforting.

Amanda received a lot of support from her fans after announcing her pregnancy - something that required a lot of trust, and did provoke upset from people who failed to realize the irony of telling her that she was deserting them by making a perfectly rational choice to start a family. But it was hanging over the show, even with her joking; this would be her last tour for some time. One of the songs she sang towards the end was done barefoot, balancing her ukulele against her pregnant abdomen, and that song was Kimya's All I Could Do. It was a very vulnerable sharing of fear; a fear of motherhood, a fear of commitment, and an implicit apology and acceptance of how things were going to change. Sharing that was very human, and not a goddess rockstar thing to do.

It's blurry, but I don't mind.

Oh, and of course I got a photo.

Fiona C.

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