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June 20th, 2008

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08:49 pm
So now that anyone going to see Amanda Palmer playing with the Boston Pops has already seen it or is at it this very minute I feel comfortable posting my thoughts on it.

I'm not a huge Dresden Dolls fanboie, it should be noted. Sure I like them, they do some interesting stuff and some downright awesome stuff, but I don't get fan-y about much and they're not one of the few. So I feel it should be as relatively objective a commentary as anyone on LJ can provide. *grin*

So the long view: overall it was definitely a fun night. It had it's highs, and it had it's "meh"s.

They opened with 4 movements of Holst's planets; Mars, Venus, Uranus, and Jupiter. Now I know these pieces very well, having played them in the past, and the pops certainly did them justice. Not sure I agreed with all the nuance bits, but overall it was a stellar performance. The large video screen was showing some very nice NASA imagery, but frankly I think it dampened the acoustics on the violins a bit. (Yeah, nitpicky ex-orchestra dork, deal.) Keith (the conductor) made a little speech about how hard it was to pick a good opening acct for Amanda P., and that The Planets seemed suitable. I'm not sure I entirely agree, but out of the repertoire of the Pops it was probably a good choice.

Then there was intermission.

Amanda's set was pretty good, there were some fun "action" scenes with her pulling random orchestra members out of the hallway and having them chase her around the stage and audience. There was a very good somber piece with ghostly actors (and Clara!), and she played Coin-Operated Boy which is always fun. It was also the most well arranged/orchestrated pieces of the night. For the most part they just didn't use the orchestra well. I nearly growled out loud when a snare and bass drum kicked in, let alone the electric guitar that came along a song or two later. If you've got a full orchestra to play with, especially one that's used to more 'fun' tunes and arrangements you should use it to it's full extent! There were a few parts where I really wanted a solo instrument weaving with her melody, etc. Meh.

She did two classic showtunes as well, the one from Cabaret had three girls from the Boston Conservatory dancing on stage in skimpy lace. They were lewd and dirty, which would have been fun at a rock show but felt really out of place on stage with the Pops. I got the feel that it was a choice made because they could, and because it'd be out of place, but it didn't work for me. Not that I'm a prude, it just felt forced in that context.

Brian V. came out and they did a really nice rendition of Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World, complete with Brian faking a Louis growl for one line. They also did a Dresden Dolls song (or 2?) with barely any input from the orchestra, which really felt like a wasted opportunity to me.

Overall thoughts, a fun concert, but it wasn't all it could have (should have) been. I don't regret seeing it at all, I had a good time and it was a decent show, but it definitely left me going "huh, that could have been better." In talking about it after the show with people, they pointed out that there may have been very limited rehearsal time, and perhaps the simplicity of the arrangement was simply due to practical constraints. I'm not sure I buy it though, if ENSMB can sight-read stuff fairly well the Pops could certainly have pulled off more even with time constraints. Heck, back in my orchestral days we would pull of full shows with just 2 days of rehearsal, and sure it was a select orchestra but we weren't pros. I stand by my opinion that they didn't do all they could/should have musically.

The after-show with Luminescent Orchestrii? Absolutely awesome. First time I've seen them live, and certainly won't be the last.
Current Location: home
mood: calmcalm
music: Talking Heads - City of Dreams

(7 bits of drivel | babble incoherently)


[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
i assume you have seen the globe review?

agreed with most of what you said. the somber piece was kind of meh for me.
[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
it's hard for me to form an opinion, having only seen coin operated boy, what a wonderful world, and don't tell mamma.

i think the orchestra could've been used a lot better, based on audio alone from backstage. i'd be sitting back there, chatting away, and suddenly ::WHAM:: orchestra, and i'd remember, 'shit, the POPS are out there!' but that led me to think they weren't being used so much as showcased?

it was fun in an 'HOLY SHIT SYMPHONY HALL' way; i heard 'campy, but fabulous' used as descriptors a few times. there was a serious element of 'because we can.' i wonder how many symphony hall season members left midway through? i saw one walk out on 'don't tell mamma.' lightfixer noted after the show, "that's probably the most times anyone has said 'fuck' onstage! well, and 'motherfucker.'" "and cumshot girls!" i volunteered. i think "motherfucker" was the only one really, really enunciated. "you MO-THER-FUCK-ERS you SING SOME-THING" was really clear; i really wondered how that felt from the back of the audience?

the somber piece (strength in music, the one about columbine and school shootings) was originally designed for a much smaller venue, i was told. i wasn't sure that it wouldn't carry well. i know i heard gasps and saw tears but that was from folk who were extremely close to me. who knows what it looked like from the back row or balconies? or what it looked like in an audience of half the size?

in short, i enjoyed myself. I also had a different vantage point. i also only saw 3 songs :).

WOW, luminescent orchestrii, yo. i'd never seen them before either! i apparently live under a rock. and *damn* yo, why does their show have to be the SAME NIGHT as goli? val'n'vess. hm; maybe i can go to one then the other.
[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
arr, I definitely enjoyed it, just felt like more could have been done.
[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
haven't, I'll have to go google it.
[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
It's quite possible that the orchestra could have played anything but that Amanda herself was out of her depth and didn't know how to use them/prepare for their... er... orchestration. Heresy, I know (I'm also not a drooling fan about her/them/or most anything), but that kind of thing may just not be in any of her strength areas.
[User Picture]
Date:June 21st, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
I assume it was a combined effort, but you could be right. If it was all on her shoulders that may have been the issue, as I've heard she doesn't actually read music. ^_^
[User Picture]
Date:June 22nd, 2008 05:29 am (UTC)
yes, this exactly. i should not have left there feeling like i could have done more interesting arrangements of DD songs for that orchestra. honestly, i felt if she just would have played less piano it would have worked better. her parts are meant to fill up all of the musical space on their own, which they do very well, but you don't need to do that when you have 80+ other musicians on stage with you. i just felt like the piano was trampling the orchestra most of the night. i was really hoping for some cool symphonic versions of their songs, but what we got was an amanda solo show with some extra instruments.

it just feels like someone smarter than i am should have thought of this.

So now that anyone going to see Amanda Palmer playing with the Boston… - another LJ. or: how i learned to stop worrying and love this life-thingy

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