Where has the last month gone? I can't believe it has been nearly a month since I did a post! January is nearly gone and I am not entirely sure what has been achieved and what has not. I want to reflect this morning, as I sit here on Auckland Anniversary Day, on what has been an amazing few days. On Friday the Dresden Dolls played a gig in the library, which I had arranged. It would be fair to say I was bloody nervous in the days leading up to the gig, as I had taken a punt on this working. We have no dedicated performance space and we had no idea how many people would turn up. However, I had enough knowledge of Amanda Palmer and the way she works to feel confident this was going to be a special event.
I had flirted with the idea of suggesting to Amanda and Brian, that they could play outside on the steps if the weather was good, however, the weather was anything but good, so an inside gig this was ALWAYS going to be. From the moment that Brian arrived with their tour manager and introduced himself, I knew this was going to be great. Brian Viglione, is the multi instrumentalist drummer of The Dresden Dolls, and while I knew who he was, I had no real sense of him as a person. When Brian introduced himself to me I was immediately struck by how totally lacking in ego he was. He mentioned he had never played in a library before and seemed shocked when I told him there was at least 150 people inside (actually it was twice that)
After some crowd preparation, including getting everyone to sit down at Ms Palmers request, Amanda joined the 300 people waiting downstairs and we were underway. What followed was around 45 mins of crowd amusing and enchanting performance. Amanda has an adoring fan base and she was able to work those watching in this most unlikely of settings, very very well. Brian and Amanda interact so well together, it truly was a delight to watch. Highlights would have to be the wonderful cover of "Mein Herr" and Amanda's solo song "Map of Tasmania" which had the audience shouting a word not normally heard in the public area of libraries. Brian's guitar playing was great and when he played percussion on a couple of plates from the cafe, we knew we were in improvisation territory.
After they had finished performing, the Dolls spent another hour and a half in the library signing autographs and giving away around 60 free tickets to the evening's show. Several people came up to me and expressed how much they loved the space in the library being used in that way and one woman in particular expressed to me that it was probably one of the best council provided experiences she has ever had.
I dropped Amanda and Brian back to their hotel afterwards and then Brian to The Powerstation. What struck me about Amanda and Brian is the care they take with each and every one of the people who came forward to meet them. Each one of those people had their heart in their hands, and it was treated with such care and dignity, I was actually quite touched. I was pleased I had the chance to talk them about that in the car on the way back to the hotel.
Later that same evening I had the chance to see The Dresden Dolls perform at The Powerstation. I have seen Amanda solo twice and have always been blown away by her live. However, seeing the Dresden Dolls is something else again. Brian's physicality as a drummer is mesmerizing. I actually dont usually pay much attention to drumming, but Brian changed me on Friday night. He kept me captivated during the night with his performance. He does not just drum, he interacts with the song standing up, moving around the kit, miming and generally interpreting the song. I was not expecting this having not watched that many Dresden Dolls concerts on YouTube. I was pleasantly surprised. I think also, since I have become somewhat of a percussionist with my new band The Comfy Chairs, this struck a stronger chord with me than before.
Which brings me on to Sunday, when The Comfy Chairs played their second gig at our guitarist Al's birthday bash. We had a great night and it was an interesting experience to see how we performed on gig two. The feedback we have received has been great and for us as a band, I think it was a good learning process. Things that went well last time, were not so tight. Things we expected to be loose, were actually quite good. We have had a few approaches by people to play at places, so it was quite an encouraging night really.
So to come full circle, here I sit on Monday morning after a very musical weekend. To meet, chat with, watch and listen to the The Dresden Dolls was truly amazing. To play on Saturday night was lovely and encouraging :-) I feel very proud of the fact that Auckland Libraries was the site of the first Dresden Dolls Ninja Gig in a library and I was part of making that happen.