Amanda Palmer may still be an alternative star, but the kind of performance she delivers at Edinburgh’s Picture House deserves wider recognition, writes music critic David Pollock
[Amanda Palmer gets up close with her fans – picture: David P Scott]
“I think I might have accidentally showed some of you my breasts there,” declared Amanda Palmer after one particularly ferocious crowdsurf across the audience’s raised hands during a cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit.
It’s a loaded statement for those who know what happened this week, when a newspaper published pictures of her unintentionally naked chest during a concert and she chose to respond in song and through viral networking. Never mind, she consoled herself, “everybody in the future is gonna get their news from rock shows”.
For one of the definitive cult musicians working in the world today, it’s a shame that only such incidents appear to be bringing Palmer closer to the mainstream. Perhaps it’s her alternative beginnings with theatre-punk duo Dresden Dolls, the fact her fanbase is now associated with that of her husband, the cult fantasy author Neil Gaiman, or just the depressing fact that we’re not used to seeing or hearing a female rock star with such astute and fearless control of her own destiny.
From the fiery rock cataclysm of opener Smile (Pictures or It Didn’t Happen) to Not the Killing Type’s perfect analogue of Kate Bush and the Breeders, this was a game-changer, a spectacle of clarity and purpose from someone with feverish enthusiasm for what she does.
Swatting away stereotypes with the incendiary Do It Like a Rockstar or dragging a demented Twist and Shout into the taboo-busting Oasis, it was a stadium-quality show from a woman resolutely battering upon the glass ceiling.