An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer @ Vogue -- 11/06/11

I had no idea what to expect going into this, but I knew I couldn't miss it. Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers, and while I was only just getting into the music of Amanda Palmer, I knew it was going to be an interesting night.

The show began with Gaiman & Palmer unofficially coming out, just to say the show was being recorded for posterity and we should behave accordingly, before introducing the opening act, Australia's The Jane Austen Argument. They did a short opening set of only three songs, with Jen Kingwell on piano and Tom Dickins on vocals. The first was called "Under The Rainbow", inspired by The Wizard of Oz, and they ended with Dickins taking a ukulele and Kingwell joining on vocals for a song written by Gaiman. They had a pretty lovely folky-cabaret sound, and I wouldn't have minded to hear more of them.

Then with nary a break, Gaiman and Palmer were back out to kick off their two hour plus show with a duet of "Makin' Woopie", which was the first of many times that the couple would prove their love of each other (but not in a nauseating way) throughout the night. From there, it mostly alternated between Gaiman reading poems and short stories, and Palmer's songs, but there were also a few more duets, including a fantastic torch song sung by Gaiman called "I Google You", and Palmer reading a poem while accompanied by Gaiman using Bloom on his iPad.

Among my favourite Gaiman moments were the fairy tale inspired "Instructions", a pretty funny story structured as the answers of an interview, "Orange" and the increasingly creepy "Feminine Endings". And even though it was closer to spoken word, he was a surprisingly good singer for his parts of the night.
On Palmer's side, she went back and forth between the piano and ukulele throughout the night, with some highlights being an almost anti-love song, "I Want You, But I Don't Need You", a kind of tongue-in-cheek look at the music industry with "Gaga, Palmer, Madonna" and a beautiful cover of "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" on ukulele, dedicated the young girl who died at the Occupy Vancouver site the previous day (Palmer did a "ninja gig" there earlier in the day, which is something they've been doing at each city they visit).

In the middle of the set there was also a brief Q&A, and lots of interaction with the audience throughout. The couple were incredibly relaxed and made the whole night very casual and informal, like you were in the living room of some friends hosting a gathering (of you and a few hundred others).

Near the end, Palmer said she was covering a different Velvet Underground or Lou Reed song leading up to Gaiman's birthday, taking on "I'll Be Your Mirror". After another duet, a cover of Leon Payne's "Psycho", which was borderline funny/sad, the night ended with Amanda Palmer and quite possibly my new favourite song, "Ukulele Anthem" -- which is exactly what it says on the tin, a song about how amazing the ukulele is.

In all, it was an engaging, interesting, entertaining, hilarious and beautiful night of art.