‘It was the best gig I have ever been to. Came out with total placenta feet and an AFP hug.’
This is an excerpt of a text message which I sent to my friend today. ‘Placenta feet’ requires explanation, and so I shall give it none, but more importantly the AFP hug was the vanilla flavoured buttercream, spread all over my nipples, to top off an excellent few days in Manchester with my immense friend Lyndsay, of Lyndsay1987.
When we heard Amanda Palmer was coming to the UK, Manchester was the choice we leapt upon and dry-humped excitedly. Last Halloween we spent a wonderful night in the city dressed as zombies, to see Every Time I Die. Our hostel was awesome, the gig was awesome, and the bacon sandwich from the nearby café the morning after soaked up the remnants of alcohol (of which there was much) very nicely. So much awesome. This time when we booked our tickets for Manchester we once again stopped in the Hatters Hostel. My blood had been all frenzied for months about this (Amanda Palmer and bacon, motherbitches!) and on Thursday we set off into the distance on a double-decker bus, sat at front on the top deck like llamas on crack, singing along all the way to My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. The rest of the bus hated us. It was the best start to the best trip ever.
We arrived in Manchester, checked in, said hello to our sleepy Chinese roommate, raided Forbidden Planet for Lyndsay’s elusive sonic screwdriver – SUCCESS! – plunged our hands into lucky dip toilets inside Affleck’s, bought far too much chocolate at Tesco, indulged ridiculously in Krispy Kremes, went back to the hostel and stuffed our faces during an epic floor picnic. By this point it was almost time to get ready, and despite an offensive wall of heat, our transformation into handsome bitches was complete- matching little hats sealing the deal.
As we entered the Ritz later that evening and approached the room with the stage, we were struck by an utterly serene atmosphere. Ahead of me I could see the silhouettes of heads outlined by the lights on the stage, filling the floor. They weren’t moving in the slightest and my heart sank somewhat as I realised that if everyone was sitting down there wouldn’t be a whole lot of room for flailing- and flailing would be entirely necessary for Amanda Palmer. But as we got closer, I realised that they were not sitting at all, they were standing perfectly, deadly still. A familiar voice pulled my attention upwards and there, stood on the balcony, was the reason for the blanket of stillness which had filled the room. Amanda was stood on a table wearing such an ethereal, beguiling outfit… and the whole crowd was mesmerised. I had never experienced anything quite so beautiful in my life- she sang so beautifully, a cover of Radiohead’s Creep, and with a single light upon her I could think of nothing any more witty than to compare her to an angel, an absolute fucking angel.
After the song had ended, and following the misplaced limb-numbing fear that we had actually missed her set, Amanda introduced the first support act and went on her merry way. Shaking a little, Lyndsay and I got a drink and bought some epic merch before finding a spot right in front of the stage. The support acts were all amazing, most of them naturally belonging to the wondrousness of the Grand Theft Orchestra. Jherek Bischoff, the Simple Pleasure and Bitter Ruin entertained the crowd prior to Amanda’s set (epic shout out to Chad of the Simple Pleasure for his ability to do the splits in glittery trousers). The thing which really struck me was how there was never more than a minute-or-so’s worth of silence. Unlike other gigs where you wait for 20 minutes for the support acts to change sets, there was always something happening. Amanda would pop out and tell stories, and before her own set, she invited a Shatter Japan representative to stand on stage and give a speech about Pussy Riot. As we stood there listening to people in the crowd shouting ‘THIS SHIT IS FUCKED!’, we knew it was going to be a special night.
Amanda herself was unforgettable. Her set kicked off with Do it with a Rockstar and she played lots of Theatre is Evil songs to an ever beckoning crowd. The rush of joy was incredible- often when I am asked what genre of music Amanda Palmer is, I often revert to the safety of the Dresden Dolls-esque cabaret punk label for the sheer convenience, but to see her standing before me, it made even less sense. She is punk, she is piano, and she is ukulele; she is Amanda Palmer, and only Amanda Palmer. Her music took me, as expected, into the very depths of emotion. Delilah caught me entirely off guard and started a river of dramatic weeping that lasted for most of the remainder of the show. She then covered Morrissey’s Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want which had me go all quivery and pathetic, and it was wonderful. My mood rocketed to the ornate ceiling though following the likes of Oasis and Map of Tasmania. Oh my God. FUCK IT! She also played a new song which I believe must be called Bigger on the Inside, during which Lyndsay and I cried bitterly. Devastatingly this was also followed by the Bed Song, and Lyndsay and I held hands, and listened. Amanda’s music literally cuts to my very core, and to be able to share something like this with my best friend was simply phenomenal. The security guards saw the crowd of people sweating and crying and took pity on us, bringing us glasses of water periodically. As we were on the front we passed the glasses back into the crowd, sharing liquids with a very eclectic mix of people that I was very proud to be part of.
Other highlights included Astronaut and Missed Me, which I had not heard before, but was so creeped out that I just had to download it when I got home. The band also did a cover of Pulp’s Common People and the crowd absolutely exploded. The encore was Girl Anachronism (I may have actually exclaimed ‘No way!’), and then the Ukulele Anthem which made such a grand impression on me that on Monday I will be buying a ukulele myself. Watch this currently ukulele-void space.
After the gig we ran to the bar and pretended we had more friends so we could down shitloads of water ourselves. Once we were stood outside, trying to get rid of the distinct underboob sweat, we happened to find ourselves right at the front of the signing queue. We waited to meet her, and when she ran out of the building to greet the huge line of people, I was overwhelmed with how beautiful she was. Everyone there was so sweaty and gross, and oh so very beautiful. Amanda signed Lyndsay’s tickets, and then lounged all over her for an epic photo. I told Amanda that she had given me many feels for many years, and seeing her in person tonight was just incredible. She thanked me and then held me for a long time. I was basically speechless there, in the cool Manchester night air, my best friend at my side, Amanda Palmer clutched to my breast. We then had a photo before Lyndsay and I went and found a taxi to return to the hostel. The whole way back we were all dumbfounded and floaty. Sweaty underboobs did not matter anymore. We had both experienced the glory of Amanda Fucking Palmer… nothing would matter ever again.
After this how did we ever get home? We might have floated on a cloud, or slept awkwardly on the bus back to Derby, listening to the old man sat behind us sucking on his own lips. One or the other, anyway. Please excuse us for the day, it’s just the way Amanda Palmer makes us.
All photos taken by myself and Lyndsay