The Dresden Dolls – The Powerstation January 27, 2012

With Amanda Palmer becoming a fairly regular visitor to New Zealand, ticket sales were a bit slow for The Dresden Dolls’ show at The Powerstation. The duo (with Brian Viglione) performed at the central Auckland library earlier in the day and handed out free tickets to help fill the venue up. Fans who stayed away should know that they missed an outstanding show. The reunited duo put on an amazing performance and, as icing on the cake, brought out a special guest to make the evening even more memorable.

The last time The Dresden Dolls were here, they played at The Kings Arms, which is where Amanda performed on her solo tour last February. While the roomier confines of The Powerstation may have been overly optimistic from ticket sales perspective, the larger venue made for a much more enjoyable experience.

Amanda was decked out in her traditionally skimpy attire of black bra and stockings as she sat behind her electric piano. Brian was in white face and was shirtless as he pounded away on his drum kit and also played guitar from time to time. The act depends upon the two musicians’ ability to communicate almost telepathically in order to perform the intricate arrangements found in songs like Coin Operated Boy and Delilah. This they achieved with almost no perceived effort. The two musicians became one.

Along with hearing old Dresden Dolls favourites, the fun at a Dolls show is hearing what cover tunes they come up with. They did not disappoint. The first highlight was an intense version of Nick Cave’s The Mercy Seat. Then after Delilah and Coin Operated Boy they brought out Jonathan Bree, who had performed with opening act Princess Chelsea, to play bass on a few numbers. Two of those numbers were from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and were fronted by none other than Richard O’Brien, the creator of Rocky Horror. Apparently Amanda accidently ran into Richard at a juice shop earlier in the day and they quickly worked up versions of Science Fiction/Double Feature and Time Warp. The results were fabulous. O’Brien, who just became a New Zealand citizen last month, is about to turn 70 in March, but he looked and acted like someone half that age. Bree stayed on for one more tune, a raucous version of The Beastie Boys’ Fight For Your Right featuring Brian on lead vocals.

The encores included a version of Mein Herr followed by Sing and then the crowd favourite…Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. The night ended with a haunting version of Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam.

The Dresden Dolls impressed on a number of levels…their musicianship is impeccable, their repartee with the audience is spot-on, their taste in covers is faultless and their work ethic is incredible (they performed at the library at 2pm, then rehearsed at 4pm to learn the Rocky Horror tunes, then played a stunning gig.

Hopefully, the next time they play Auckland they will have a new album to promote. And speaking of promoting, here’s the phone number Amanda called out during the show for anyone who wants to get on their mailing list…text to: 0400 690 690.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to The Dresden Dolls perform Time Warp with Richard O’Brien and Fight For Your Right

Click here to view a gallery of photos from the show taken by photographer Michael Flynn: