I never had trouble writing a music review. I do it for a living. Well, a part time living anyway. This one had me stumped for 3 days, a lifetime for me.
I've seen shows that blew me away before. In Israel as well as in London, Berlin, New York, Milan and god knows where else. But nothing prepared me for the phenomenon that is Amanda Palmer.
Palmer's show, the first one ever in Tel Aviv, was something between a religious experience (for those of you who believe in such things) and group therapy. 3 hours of a ritual we shall name Amanda-Therapy.
It's not only the fact that she does whatever the fuck she wants. She ignores the so called "norms and rules" of the music biz, that say for example that you can't have a 10 minute intro to a song. Hell, palmer can sit and talk to you until the moment everyone in the room feels like a guest in her cozy living room.
It's not only the fact that she plays each and every song like a force of nature; Wild, untamed, furious, delirious and soulful. You find yourself – a grown man – being moved to tears, roaring with laughter, riding this crazy emotional rollercoaster with hundreds of people.
It's not only that she is PRESENT in the room. Too many artists treat their crowd like an unavoidable piece of scenery. Hello Tel aviv, Paris, Prague or whatever the fuck you are, see you next time. This kind of "wham bam thank you man" is typical, sadly. But Palmer talks to her fans. She shares the room with them. I think that she realized early on that she can only be as good as the energy in the room allows her to be. Building up that energy, transforming it to a halo around her and her music – there lies the real craft.
I'm 43. Well, in a month anyway. I've seen almost all of my musical heroes onstage – those who are still alive. But next week I'm flying to Berlin to see Palmer's show again. Mainly because I still have to explain to myself what exactly happened that night. But I have a mid-way conclusion.
I think Palmer is a giver. A unique one.
Amanda-Therapy is simply opening yourself up emotionally, giving it all – and waiting for others to do the same. When it works, like that night, It's a hell of a sight. It's a feeling of pure joy that can't be replicated.
Amanda Palmer chose to end her show with Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", perhaps the most covered song of all time. To do that, you have to be a complete idiot, or a ballsy artist who believes she has a fresh interpretation for this classic piece.
When Palmer finished the song, wiping a tear, there wasn't a single person in the room who still had any doubt.