Dresden Dolls (Live) Review

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Dresden Dolls- Wednesday 13th September at San Francisco Bathhouse, Wellington

Last night I witnessed one truly great performance. The Dresden Dolls (Amanda Palmer and Brian Viglione) rocked Wellington’s San Francisco Bathhouse with their unique musical style they call punk cabaret.
But to start the night rolling we were treated to another punk fused gothic group the Red Paintings. Hailing from Australia, the Red Paintings are another band that doesn’t easily fit into a musical genre. All dressed in what looked like traditional Japanese clothing, (with the exception of the vocalist/ lead guitarist who wore a suit); they looked like something out of a horror movie. But their sound was amazing; the inclusion of cello and violin gave them an epic sound that really captured your imagination. For a little known band, the Red Paintings commanded a lot of attention and got plenty of people talking.
After the Red Paintings Wellington musician Grayson Gilmour took the stage for a short set. Unfortunately playing after such an amazing act and right before the headlining act his performance seemed to fill in time. This was a shame because Grayson is an extremely talented musician.
What happened next was bizarre; a guy with an accordion strapped to his chest came out on stage and led the crowd in a drinking song. This went on for about ten minutes, and concluded with everyone spinning around on the spot ten times to become dizzy.
Finally the Dresden Dolls took the stage to a huge roar of approval. They went straight into ‘Sex Changes’ the opening song from their second album Yes! Virginia. It sounded great but the band picked up some technical difficulties. They left the piano and drums briefly, playing a guitar track to fill in a couple of minutes. They also took the opportunity to interact with the crowd. After the glitches were fixed the duo went back to business; first playing ‘Backstabber’ then a couple of songs I didn’t recognise before leading into the single ‘Coin Operated Boy’. It was an obvious crowd pleaser and the devoted fans sang along willingly.
The highlight of the performance for me was a cover of Black Sabbaths ‘War Pigs’. I had read the Flaming Lips play it live but never expected the Dresden Dolls to. Something about performing this song struck a cord with me; the band never said why they played it. In a way it was a silent protest, but by god it was the most amazing live song I have witnessed in quite some time. From this point on I was so captured by the band that it didn’t matter what they played. They continued with tracks from both their studio albums before leaving the stage. Returning for an encore, they played ‘Mandy goes to Med. School’ before closing out with a crashing of piano and drums. The crowd was left transfixed by what they had just witnessed. The Goth kids still tried to deny it but they were smiling inside.


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