The musician, and sometimes-political activist, Amanda Palmer is in New Zealand for three gigs over the next week. Palmer is one of most interesting artists around at the moment. Combining ‘theatrical rock, punk cabaret, manic-musical, neo-glam-torch’ together, she normally works as the lead singer and pianist in the duo of the Dresden Dolls, but at the moment she's doing other solo and collaborative work. Amanda Palmer’s songs are described in the press release for her latest New Zealand tour as ‘astute, witty world observations’, which is almost an understatement. Elsewhere Palmer’s songs have been described as dealing with ‘the often brutal emotional and sexual lives of a diverse cast of misfits, crazies, compulsives, and sociopaths’. One song, ‘Night Reconnaissance’, from her last album expresses her sympathy with teen socialist rebels plotting revenge against tormentors ‘from good homes’. [Read more below]
But politics are normally only in the background of Palmer’s music. As discussed in this interview, she isn’t in favour of overtly political art. But there’s no doubt that her worldview is a fairly left-liberal-libertarian one. She’s played in the Democrat-friendly Rock The Vote benefit concerts, but has avoided involvement or endorsement of mainstream politics. After all, she’s really a punk (and in fact she can barely read music) and her approach is informed by her teenage love of the Smiths, the Cure, and Leonard Cohen.
Probably more than anything, ‘punk liberalism’ probably sums up her politics. This can be seen most notably on the single, ‘Oasis’, in which she sings merrily of experiences with rape, abortion and rightwing religion. Radio stations refused to play it. She’s also a decidedly libertine personality. Her song “Runs in the Family” discusses her propensity towards sexually promiscuity.
Amanda Palmer is visiting New Zealand with her fiancé, the "rock star" of the literary world – Neil Gaiman (who she’s also putting a book out with). He’s here for the International Arts Festival, where he will be appearing in conversation with Kate De Goldi. In fact, both Palmer and Gaiman will be interviewed on the upcoming Saturday morning with Kim Hill. Perhaps Hill will ask them about the recent controversy at the Golden Globes where she changed her dress while on the red carpet (photo on the right).
These are the three gigs she’s playing:
- Friday 12th March at Bodega, Wellington
- Tuesday 16th March at Al’s Bar, Christchurch
- Weds 17th March at The Kings Arms, Auckland
Tickets are available from Undertheradar.co.nz.
Palmer is also a twitter-extraordinaire – you can follow her here. Also, check out, the Dresden Dolls website, her website and her solo videos. And there’s an interesting video interview/profile here.
Because Palmer is such an exhibitionist, innovator and performer, her whole life is art itself, and hence she produces such interesting images of herself. So here’s some below.