Saturday, June 17, 2006Writing Articles Is Different To Blogging
The Dresden Dolls, Spiegelzelt, Berlin, 14.05.06
“We were so excited when we heard we could play in a mirrored tent” exclaimed Dresden Dolls singer, Amanda Palmer as she took to the stage of the Spiegel Zelt, erected temporarily for this travelling mini-festival taking place in mirrored tents all across Germany. The sunset was glowing through the stained-glass windows of this curious, decadent velvet and wood-laden construction next to the railway tracks at East Berlin’s former main station. It seemed a suitable place for the Dresden Dolls, who describe themselves as Brechtian Punk Cabaret, to introduce their new album, Yes, Virginia, to the country which gave them their name and, of course, Bertolt Brecht and his wonderful and strange theatre.
Since the release of their eponymous album in 2004, the Boston duo has accumulated a dedicated, passionate and numerous following without attracting too much hype or mainstream press, mainly on the back of word of mouth praise and blistering live shows. Tonight was no exception. Though the sun was still illuminating the tent from all sides and the Dresden Dolls are a band best served in eerie, smoky darkness, Amanda and drummer Brian Vilgione conjure up the most dark, intense energy in their live show that it could have been on a Caribbean beach and still been as impressive. Like the Kills, the sparseness of the arrangements, i.e. only keyboard and primal drums against Amanda’s rich and frantic vocals, makes the drama so much more affecting and severe. As they look at each other across the stage, all the intensity which connects a band of five members is concentrated into this solitary, manic gaze. Watching them play live, it’s easy to lose yourself in their moments and their music.
As with all things cabaret, however, it’s not all serious. Their single Coin-Operated Boy is a cheeky crowd-pleaser and their cover of Grauzone’s Eisbär, a Swiss new-wave band’s ode to the polar bear, had the crowd waving arms and singing at the top of their voices. Perhaps fittingly it was not one of their own songs that captured the evening, but a cover of the late Jacques Brel’s Port of Amsterdam, a wistful, sexy, dark tail of a sailor in Amsterdam in a long gone time of swashbucklin’ filthy cabaret bars frequented by interesting and shady clientele, the vice and the sleazy. The Dresden Dolls romanticise and capture this decadent and dangerous world and their concerts make it real for people bored in an over-sensitised and sanitised present.
This will appear, in a better written (i.e. editted) form at Wears The Trousers. To see other reviews and interviews I've written for them, go here. And do make sure you download the back issues of the magazine. It is such a nicely written/produced magazine, and free. The next issue will feature interviews with The Dresden Dolls, The Cardigans, Juana Molina, Psapp, The Handsome Family, Metric, Nerina Pallot, Po' Girl, Mia Doi Todd, Amy Wadge, Peaches, Joan as a Policewoman, Rainer Maria, Lisa Germano, Thea Gilmore and Stephanie Kirkham! They are always looking for more writers, so get in touch if you are interested.