Friday, November 4, 2011

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman play Moore

Seattle Times

By Paul Pearson
Special to The Seattle Times

Amanda Palmer gets so restless she can't even take a holiday with her husband, best-selling graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

"We realized we're failures at taking normal-people vacations," the versatile musician said over the phone a few weeks ago. "We've tried it two or three times, and it just cannot work because we like working too much ... I find it difficult to go anywhere without doing a show."

That's too bad. But it's good for Seattle: Palmer and Gaiman, who married in January, are working together at the Moore Theatre Wednesday as part of a West Coast tour that includes music and spoken word.

Palmer, 35, started out as the pianist and vocalist for punk-cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls and is one of music's most challenging performers. Gaiman, 50, is the award-winning literary visionary of graphic and narrative novels such as "The Sandman" series and "Coraline."

The show shapes up as a multiform revue with a relaxed fourth wall.

"I've got a ton of solo material, on piano and ukulele," she said. "Neil and I do a handful of songs together. He's doing most of the reading — some short-short stories and favorite tidbits. I'm doing some reading, too. We're also doing some back-and-forth with the audience, like a chatty press event."

Palmer and Gaiman are both iconoclasts who tackle dark themes with equal parts drama and whimsy. With the Dresden Dolls, Palmer mixed painful, sometimes autobiographical subjects — violence, sexual identity, rape — with a nearly circuslike approach and black humor. A shapeshifting performer, Palmer has also teamed up with Seattle musician Jason Webley to play a musical pair of (supposedly) conjoined twins in the duo Evelyn Evelyn.

The late author Norman Mailer praised Gaiman's "The Sandman" as "a comic book for adults." His Hugo Award-winning straight novel "American Gods" is being developed by Tom Hanks' production company as an HBO series.

Palmer likes interacting with audiences. To young artists who may come to the show looking for advice, she said she would ask them: "Well, who are you? What are you trying to accomplish? What kind of lifestyle do you want? You might not want a career or life like mine. The freedom of being an artist nowadays is that you get to choose your own adventure."

And for Palmer and Gaiman, that's a working vacation.

Paul Pearson blogs at

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