An Amanda Palmer set list is like the weather; what she produces on any particular evening is an outward expression of the complex machinations of her inner climate on that given night.
On a Friday night in Adelaide, Amanda was battling sickness and perhaps consequently delivered a palpably emotionally vulnerable set. There was humour, of course; there always is: songs about her map of Tasmania and her hatred of Vegemite and an acoustic encore consisting solely of her ukulele manifesto, ‘Ukulele Anthem’.
Throughout most of her set, though, there was a persistent trickle of tears burning their way along my cheek. As she fumbled over the words of her devastatingly incisive ode to marital malaise, ‘The Bed Song’, Amanda apologetically confessed that she was herself distracted by her own sadness.
It was a cavalcade of heartache: Harry Chapin’s ‘Cats in the Cradle’ and her Patreon-funded ten minute ‘A Mother’s Confession’ fearlessly expounded upon the insecurities and perils arising from parenthood; her duet on the John Grant penned ‘Glacier’ with support act Brendan Maclean was an aching reflection upon homophobia while a new song, recorded at Tasmania’s MONA museum, was a blazing indictment upon the selfish antipathy felt my many towards the suffering of refugees.
Amanda is loved and hated for the same reason; the truth she speaks cannot be ignored; it can either be embraced or rebelled against. It provides comfort to the kindred and challenges the prejudices of the opposed.
On this night, to paraphrase John Grant, Amanda’s pain moved the audience like a glacier, carving out deep valleys and creating spectacular landscapes, nourishing the soul with precious minerals and other stuff.
Just one night like this with Amanda Palmer can transform your inner world forever.