Friday, September 14, 2012

We Get Out - Amanda Palmer at 9:30 Club

I have, as usual, some catching up to do.
For those of you who might care to see some of the recent "pro" work (considering what I'm paid, that's hard to type without a fit of laughter), here are the last two concert preview pieces for
Last week, with Sondre Lerche, Bob Mould, Mission of Burma, etc.
This week, with Richard Thompson, Amanda Palmer and DeVotchKa

Alas, I didn't get out to any of last week's shows, but was able to catch two this week.
The first, on Wednesday night, was Amanda Palmer whom I've seen before but who exceeded my expectations with some thrilling bits of stage craft and a crackin' band.

I'm preparing an examiner review and photo gallery for that show, as well as a WhatchaGonnaPlay page, thanks to the lovely female roadie/assistant who passed me AFP's own set list. Those will go up as soon as I've prepared the photos and written the text, but here's a teaser...

The other show I saw was last night - DeVotchKa, plus Clare and the Reasons at Sixth & I Synagogue. I was invited to attend by Clare's people and knew I probably wouldn't be able to see the headliner's full set since I needed to meet up with Hubby in the 9-to-10 hour.

 I didn't have the SLR with me, so I popped off some shots with my point-and-shoot, a task made difficult by the shadow-heavy mood lighting for Clare and the Reasons' set. The band had a nice sound for the sacred space - lots of harmony oohs and ahhhs and gentle, mid-tempo rhythms. There wasn't as much variety to the sound as I would have liked and the pretty sometime bordered on precious. At one point, the keyboard player hit a riff that had some distortion to it and I thought, "ah, that's better" and then, a few moments later, at the same point in the verse, it was gone and I realized the riff was a technical glitch. The band could have used more of that frisson.

As for DeVotchKa, I would have liked to have heard more than the half dozen songs I was able to catch. Band leader Nick Urata is obviously an ambitious musical thinker, taking the stage with a full string section and, occasionally, a sousaphone (I thought it was a tuba, but was corrected by a smart friend).
 Urata cuts a cool, romantic figure on stage, looking a bit like a mid-European George Clooney, and was in full emotive voice.
One thing was missing for me, however,  at least in the portion of the show I saw. The last time I saw DeVotchKa perform, three summers ago, the band opened for David Byrne and was more of a band, with a bit of a rag-tag spirit as the members jumped around and traded instruments with a gypsy punk spirit. Here, tethered to his string charts, Urata worked on some big dramatic moments, but that anything-might-happen element was gone.
 (when I popped into the stairwell to check on Hubby, I was in the storage space for instruments)
                (like cowbell, you can't have too much sousaphone, so here's another angle)
So, having to leave at a point that I'm guessing was less than halfway through the show (I snapped the above photo on the way out), I'd like to think that there was a point where Urata thanked the fine string section and sent them on their way so that he could get down and playful with the band.

Excuse me now, I need to get back to those Amanda Palmer photos. I got some that I'm very happy with, so please check into the set list site over the weekend. Hope it's a happy one!

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