Last night, Amanda Palmer kicked off this season of the Boston Pops EdgeFest, the orchestra’s collaboration with younger, “edgier” bands and performers drawing the iPod generation into Symphony Hall. The choice of pairing Palmer with the Pops lead me to wonder if the Pops had ever listened to a Dresden Dolls album or seen The Onion Cellar or, you know, met her.
Pops conductor Keith Lockhart smirked his way through his introduction of the show. And when the first song, “Missed Me,” off the Dolls’ first album, began, Palmer burst through the Hall’s side doors wearing a highly revealing 18th century ball gown and proceeded to flirt outrageously with the first violin (who was cracking up). It was clear that the orchestra knew exactly what was up.
But not everyone did. Predictably, the majority of the audience was made up of rabid Amanda fans, but sitting at one table was a group of four pristine old ladies, season ticket-holders to be sure, who looked like they’d just been hit in the face.
With an orchestra at her mercy, she careened through “I Cain’t Say No,” from Oklahoma, a few pretty depressing numbers from her upcoming solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, a cover of “Brick,” by Ben Folds (who produced said album), and a rollicking rendition of “Coin-Operated Boy,” which involved her and Keith Lockhart chasing each other around the stage, switching places (she conducted for a while, he played piano), and generally flirting their faces off with each other.
The show was entertaining to be sure, but as a true Dresden Dolls fan, seeing Amanda on a stage made me miss her other half, Brian Viglione. As she and three backup dancers were singing “Don’t Tell Mama” from Cabaret, I daydreamed about Brian’s drumming on “Girl Anachronism.”
And then! From stage left! Brian Viglione in a bowler hat singing “What a Wonderful World”! The fans go crazy, Keith Lockhart is ousted as the stage’s leading man, and the evening is complete. Palmer and Viglione round up with “Sing,” from their second album, Amanda pulls her entire family up on stage from the audience, and everyone is happy.
Except for those old ladies, who’d made hasty exits three songs ago.