Amanda Palmer with the Colorado Symphony. Red Rocks. 06.14.13

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Amanda Palmer. The painted-on eyebrows. The crowd sourcing scandal. The NSFW music videos. The controversial poetry. The famous husband. The unabashed sexuality and promiscuity… It’s amazing this woman finds time to get dressed everyday, much less write and perform music. But make music she does, and ‘performance’ could be her middle name. Amanda Palmer is many things, and each of those ‘things’ come with a new set of critics, but one thing you can’t take away from her is her ability to entertain a crowd. I was absolutely stunned by what I witnessed when she played the Gothic Theatre with her Grand Theft Orchestra in September, and although the daylight performance at Red Rocks couldn’t match the potent power of the cabaret chaos that ensued that night, the Colorado Symphony did more than hold their own in the place of source funded strings. Jherek Bischoff stayed up all night to create a bassoon section for the Boulder Bassoon Quartet last time, so it’s no wonder he was man behind Palmer’s arrangements for this set with the Symphony. Palmer heaped much deserved praise on her partner in crime, but I’m here to provide her with the praise she deserves. No matter what you think of her personality or politics, Amanda Palmer writes amazing, moving songs, and as she proved Friday night in front of a diverse crowd that included families with small children, she has the ability and agility to change things up without compromising herself as an artist.

The show at the Gothic Theatre was an Amanda Palmer production. There was violence, nudity, and soul-baring confessions. The show at Red Rocks was a DeVotchKa show. And although the two artists comfortably exist within certain circles, they do draw a different crowd. It’s a funny coincidence that the night Palmer played the Gothic, DeVotchKa played Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony. She even gave a shout out to the home team that night, promising that she would someday ‘play within the Rocks’. What she didn’t know at the time was that she would be sharing a stage with that same symphony, and that she would be opening for the home team. As I looked around at the faces in the crowd, I was a bit worried as to how those faces would react to Palmer’s performance.  As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The majority of the people in attendance were there to see DeVotchKa, but this controversial woman would win them over quickly.

Her costume consisted of a Victorian suit; classy and respectful, but true to her style. Her setlist included a couple Amanda Palmer songs, a few Grand Theft songs, and a couple Dresden Dolls songs; giving her fans a little taste of everything. Her performance was split between sitting at a piano and being out in the crowd. “Missed Me” found her working her way through the front third of the amphitheatre; smiling at children, sitting on guys’ laps and even sharing someone’s beer. She played her heart out to the half-naked women with ‘photoshop this’ written across their bellies, and she played her heart out to the those who had never heard the name Amanda Palmer before that very moment. She showed respect (and a bit of ornery humor) to the symphony, as well as to the venue. She also kept her clothes on this time. But the one thing she didn’t compromise were her lyrics. When it came time for “If you fuck me, mister” or “Holy shit, you got some action”, those were exactly the words that came out of her mouth. And you’ve got to respect her for that. If you bring kids to a concert, you have to be prepared for a little language.

Once again, Palmer proved herself capable on the tightrope, walking that fine line between artist and entertainer. She was able to read the crowd and make sure everyone in attendance was enjoying themselves to the fullest extent. After being introduced, Jerek Bishop talked a little about living in the moment, and with 9,000 people and 2 huge rocks reflecting in his eyes, he declared ‘right now’ as ‘real fucking beautiful’. I couldn’t have agreed more.

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Setlist:
Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen)
Missed Me
Trout Heart Replica
Astronaut
The Bed Song
Runs in the Family
Coin-Operated Boy

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Setlist