Arts & Events

Gaiman and Palmer put on an unconventional show

Sci-Fi and fantasy powerhouse Neil Gaiman and musician Amanda Palmer spent the last night of their Kickstarter tour, An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, on the stage of the Moore Theatre in Seattle last Wednesday, Nov. 9. The tour started on Halloween night and went to five west coast locations—Los Angeles; San Francisco; Vancouver, BC; Portland and Seattle.

Their show, a unique combination of music, poetry and spoken word, proved to be as much of a hodge-podge of art forms as Gaiman and Palmer—married since 2009—themselves.

Gaiman premiered some of his writing, Palmer made liberal use of the ukulele in her songs and a number of special guests took the stage—which was covered in fan-supplied props, including a large stuffed lion, a squashy purple couch, a couple of feather boas and a number of unidentifiable knick-knacks.

As a duo, Gaiman and Palmer have incredible stage presence. Their banter was funny, awkward, more than a little crass and completely unplanned, making for a quirky and entirely unexpected show. A big surprise for the fans who know Gaiman as the author famous for being perpetually seen in black t-shirts and deeply unsettling his readers was his performance of several different songs—some solo, some with Palmer and all outrageously funny.

But of course, the highlight for Gaiman fans was his writing. He read a few poems and a couple of short stories that would alone have made the entire show worth the $30 ticket. One story, written as a letter from a human statue stalking a park visitor, simultaneously creeped the crowd out beyond belief and sent them into fits of “I can’t believe this is funny” laughter. Another told a story through interview questions about a family’s alien encounter.

I went into the show not very familiar with Amanda Palmer and her music, but after the seeing her performance, I can’t imagine that her fans could have been disappointed in the least. Her voice was solid throughout the show, she managed to make the whole theater feel like a small, intimate audience and she gave off a genuine sense of enjoying the show she and Gaiman were putting on.

The guest musicians were, for many in attendance, every bit as exciting as the headliners. The Jane Austen Argument (one half of it, actually—Tom Dickens was stuck in Canada) opened the show to enormous applause, and Jason Webley, who played the Moore just two days later, sent the crowd into an frenzy. Jonathan Coulton had a similar effect with his uproarious song accompanied by Gaiman.

Palmer capped off the unconventional evening with a surprise for Gaiman, whose birthday was the next day. After blindfolding him and sitting him in a chair, Palmer brought out a group of showgirls and performed an extensive Happy Birthday routine, complete with the can-can and a cake.

Short tours with small audiences like An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are hard to come by, so the crowd at the Moore Theatre experienced a rarity of a show. Seldom do literature and music come together in such a big and extremely strange way, so fans of the two artists can only hope that it happens again, very, very soon.

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