Concert Review: Amanda Palmer Is the Goddess We Need
Falling in Love With Being a Woman, Again and Again and Again
If you’ve never heard of Amanda Palmer, look her up. Right. Fucking. Now.
Your soul will thank you.
This kick ass artist/human/feminist has been around for a while now, starting with the punk-cabaret band the Dresden Dolls in Boston, Massachusetts in 2000 with her counterpart Brian Viglione, and then going solo in 2008. She’s produced three solo albums, all powerful intimate creations about her life and struggles that will make you glad to be alive and human.
Her newest solo album, There Will Be No Intermission, surpasses anything I’ve heard of her previous work, and I’m a diehard Amanda (fucking) Palmer fan.
Palmer played a three-and-a-half-hour concert at the Monument National Theatre on St. Laurent Blvd. on Saturday night. Alone on stage with a baby grand Steinway piano (signed by THE Leonard Cohen), her ukulele, and a glass of red wine, Palmer brought her audience on a journey through some of the best and worst moments of her life.
She spoke and sang about things that women aren’t really supposed to talk about, or so we’re made to believe: getting pregnant when you’re not ready, having your mum bring you to an abortion clinic, miscarriage, forgetting your baby in the car, being afraid and unsure of being a mother, bringing your drug addicted boyfriend home to meet the family—all things that many of us have or will experience, but often will not be able to speak about, reflect on and, in turn, process until we’re healthy.
I had never seen her in concert before but I’ve read her book The Art of Asking, seen her famous Ted Talk, and followed her on social media for years. Palmer is all about having dialogue with her fans. In 2012 she had a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign which raised almost $1.2 million for her album Theatre Is Evil. In 2015 she started a Patreon account where she has 15,000 patrons, who financially support her, read her blogs, and give her advice and emotional stability when she asks for it. And she gives it back, too, of course.
She’s a wise woman. Her ability to confront the ugly things in life and make them into beautiful and powerful music is extraordinary. In between songs Palmer told the audience stories, sprinkled with sadness and humour, about her life and her inspiration. She reassured us that we are not alone in this life, and more often than not we have more similarities than differences. And we are stronger than we think.
“You know, they teach you things when you go into seventh grade health class, they tell you what you’re equipped to do,” Palmer told us. “They teach you that you’re equipped to have a period and have a baby and you need to be careful and use birth control. But they don’t teach you that you’re equipped to emotionally deal with abortion. Or emotionally and physically equipped to deal with a miscarriage, and all the other things that life throws at you. But I’m telling you —you’re amazing.”
“You can do fucking anything.”
And I think, in that moment, every person in the audience believed her.
I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life and woes when Palmer talked about hers. I thought about all of the incredible women in my life who have been through fucked up things.
I thought about that time my friend secretly told me about her abortion and how her boyfriend refused to come with her—but she went through with it anyway, and the nurse gave her a hard time for crying so hard because she felt so alone. I thought about my brave and beautiful friend who so openly told me that she’s going to get an abortion next week.
I thought of the women in my life who have been sexually assaulted and how fucking incredible they are for getting up everyday and facing the world and are committed to changing it for the better.
I thought about that time I went to get a plan B pill and my ex-boyfriend interrupted the pharmacist to make a shitty joke about adult diapers. Or the time I had to pretend I needed a plan B pill because my roommate’s medicare card was expired and her shitty boyfriend lied about wearing a condom.
I thought about all of the women in this world who don’t have access to birth control and abortion services and how there is still so much work to do.
And through these thoughts I realized how much I love the women in my life and how much I love being a woman. It’s hard, the odds are against us and there’s probably more blood involved than necessary, but it’s worth it.
Palmer’s performance helped me realize how important it is that we talk about these traumatic things. With our families. Our friends. Our classmates and co-coworkers. We need to scream from the rooftops that, yes, abortions and miscarriages happen and we shouldn’t silently try to forget about them. If we recognize that so many women go through the same experiences we will not feel so alone.
There Will Be No Intermission in concert is an ode to being human. When Palmer played her last song, “The Ride,” she quoted the late comedian Bill Hicks, saying “Life is just a ride. Don’t be afraid of anything. Ever.” She told us that before she wrote the song, she asked her Patreon supporters what they were afraid of in life. There were thousands of comments from people all over the world.
“There seems to be this rule of equal and opposite suffering,” Palmer said. “For as many people that were going through abortions, there were people dealing with IVF drama who were infertile and couldn’t get pregnant. For all the people who were dealing with dying and ailing parents in hospice, there were people who were estranged from their parents, who couldn’t connect with them.”
This idea that we’re all on this fucked up rollercoaster together made me feel a little braver. That everyone suffers through our own tragedies, and we may feel completely alone in what we’re experiencing, but millions of people around the world are feeling and thinking the same as you are.
We are all in this together. Please know that.
“Come on out darling, and don’t you cry. It’s just a ride.”