The lonely, the sensitive, the outcast, the reclusive, and the weird all congregated at House of Blues on Monday to light a candle for their patron saint.
Amanda Palmer delivered an explosive performance that balanced bone-snapping rock and roll with moments of quiet emotion and reflection. Her backing band, the Grand Theft Orchestra, were worthy apostles, adding firepower to new songs like the fist-pounding “Do It With a Rockstar” and the gorgeous “Bottomfeeder.” (Side note: In perhaps the evening’s one unintentional touch of the bizarre, the Grand Theft Orchestra’s young guitarist looked just like Warren from Empire Records.)
The evening reached its climax in more ways than one (so, you know, two) with an outlandish cover of “Careless Whisper,” which devolved — or evolved, depending on your opinion of George Michael — into a virtual orgy between Palmer and her bandmates. Highlights of the epic rendition included Palmer’s orgasmic reactions to a guitar solo and an impromptu “bra solo,” which consisted of Palmer vigorously rubbing an audience member’s flung bra onto the breasts of her personal photographer.
It wasn’t all fun and games though. The evening’s most powerful moment came when Palmer read anonymous confessions from fans off a pile of index cards. The pithy, poetic glimpses at heartbreak, death, and humiliation were occasionally funny but always touching. House of Blues was packed, but as Palmer read slowly and quietly from the stack of secrets, you could have heard a pin drop.
As she did during her last San Diego appearance — and presumably manages to do at all her shows — Palmer made the night feel special and unique. Her charisma is palpable, and she uses it to connect with her audience in an empathetic way that few performers can match. Sure, Palmer’s theatricality may not be for everyone, but the wonderfully odd show rewarded the faith of the devoted and provided a compelling case for converts.
Photos – Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra at House of Blues