June 20th, 2008
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
music: Talking Heads - City of Dreams
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.