This past September 25th, Amanda Palmer held a cozy concert within the comforts of Leipzig’s Haus Auensee, for about 200 guests. Unlike other stops on her current European tour, the versatile Leipzig venue didn’t give her a curfew, which allowed the punk cabaret musician full range of time and feelings – and the freedom to improvise and experiment with her intensely intimate performance.
Intimacy has not been a difficult topic for Amanda, for those who know her work; but one couldn’t help but notice that somehow this particular performance was something different, even deeper than her usual approach.
It felt as if she was talking with you alone in a living room, as a close friend she could completely open herself up to. It wasn’t just about her life, but women’s lives in general, channeled into the context of the highly charged and confusing sociopolitical climate we live in today.
Her candidness taking more courage than encountering a tiger, it’s as if the singer-songwriter was reading from a journal chronicling her darkest moments. She laid out her demons and past challenges, while also offering tales of redemption – in the past, present and possibly future – through the characters who have helped shape her life.
With four hours of performance, an exhausting amount of time for any artist, one could feel that she was testing the waters in Leipzig, offering up something more naked than her raw lyrics and expulsion of emotion. The stream of Amanda’s personal stories and dynamic movements about the stage appeared to come out easy and undeterred, seamlessly punctuated by her songs, including from her Dresden Dolls duo. She told an enraptured audience – which gave her a standing ovation at the end – that she plans to come back as the duo to Leipzig.
This show, however, consisted of just her and a piano. She knocked out some of her earliest compositions, newest solo album songs such as “Voicemail for Jill” and “A Mother’s Confession,” greatest Dresden Doll hits such as “Coin-Operated Boy,” and “Runs in the Family,” covers of famous German songs, and a tongue-in-cheek German rendition of “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen.
The core of Amanda Palmer’s message – illustrated with her first-hand experiences – encompassed what still needs to happen in society: removing the stigma that women face for their choices, in particular the topic of abortion and rights over their own bodies.
Amanda shared with the audience her own complex relationship with motherhood, birth and death, while seeking to battle the misconception that women get abortions frivolously. Whether it be due to timing, poor life choices or sometimes completely impossible odds, a woman should have the choice to determine what needs to be done, rather than being ostracized for it. Mostly via exposing herself on such a level, she showed that one can emerge from ordeals such as abuse and abortion a better person and not alone.
Advocacy and unity are something Amanda Palmer strives for; her independence is fierce and it shows in how she connects and does business as a professional musician. She has accrued an international entourage of loyal supporters who believe in her, and in her music and word and message – so much so that they contribute regularly through her Patreon to make sure she can remain an independent artist.
She is living what she preaches: to take the wide reach as an impactful artist to influence people in a way that brings them together, operating on an empathetic human level and outside the constraints of conglomerate administration.
For her, the responsibility is not just in processing and trying to channel what has happened to her constructively – in her case, through music and outreach – but to connect and express that she, like everyone else, has felt ashamed, afraid and profoundly hurt, and lived to tell the tale. So that those who have experienced similar trauma can feel less hopeless and alone, and even feel empowered.