Event,  Personal

Myself, my grief, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer & the Bushfire Event.

Amanda Palmer knows a thing or two about grief. She’s not one to shy away from it, she lets it if flow from her in any creative way possible. It’s something that I appreciated but had not really connected with until these past 13 months.

I love Amanda. I wrote a post about my love of her 9 years ago on this here blog. I’ve seen her numerous times since, including the absolutly heavenly experience of seeing The Dresden Dolls live. It’s up there as one of my all time favourite gigs. Amanda and Brian just make music magic together.

I couldn’t afford to go to her recent tour, she was performing at Hamer hall and concert tickets these days are just out of my budget. So when she announced that her and Neil were holding a Bushfire Relief benefit, with tickets at a price I could afford, I jumped at the chance.

The thing is, I didn’t expect how this event would speak to my grief. It’s a thing these days. Its been 13 months but my grief is an every day occurance. It’s a constant companion. While I am moving forward with my life, I still deal with the loss of M every day. There is that moment, at some point in my day, I will go to do something, want to say something, think of something, only to be hit with “oh yeah, he’s dead”. Punch to the gut. These days, it doesn’t consume me, doesn’t knock me off my feet, take away my breath. I do have days when I’ll have an intense flashback. There are still days I’m having to sedate myself to get through the night. There are things, that for some reason, will trigger a big grief party. This event was one of them. The one thing I have learnt is that grief is weird and does whatever the fuck it wants. I realised the night before, laying in bed, not being able to sleep that the event was 13 months exactly since he passed away.

Amanda Palmer playing White NightOne of the images M sent to me from White Night.

When M and I first started talking, he knew how much I adored Amanda Palmer, so when he heard she was doing a ninja gig for White Night, he ventured out to see her. Sending me photos and updating me all about it. M loved reading and Neil Gaiman was amoungst his favourite. He loved American Gods. He knew of Amanda through Neil. I was the oppisite. While I do love to read, I’d never really paid much attention to Neil Gaiman. He ended up being cemented on my radar due to Amanda. I’ve since read some of Neils writings and M had gone on to read and listen to Amandas stuff. It was like a lot of things in our life. We went about things in a totally different way, but would end up at the same point.

Text messages sent from M to me re: Amanda Palmer & Neil GaimanMessenger texts with M.

We always planned to see an Amanda gig together. O*-999ne of the last times she toured, we couldn’t afford it. I have no doubt he would have been right there next to me at this gig, even if it was on a Sunday night. The lure of Neil with an added Amanda would have been too good to miss.

I sat in the audience and watched the show. So many times thinking of M, of how he would have loved Fred Leone talking about the Megafauna dreamtime stores, of which M was fascinated with. To hearing Neil speak, his writing hitting emotional nerves you don’t expect. To the music, the amazing, beautiful, haunting, hilarious music. I cried. 3 or 4 times. I had to remove my glasses and wipe away tears.

The event was a spur of the moment benefit show to raise money for the bushfire crisis Australia has been living through these past few months. Amanda & co arrive in Australia just before Christmas and then witnessed what Australia wildfire can do. She was here, she wanted to do something. Her patreons wanted her to do something. So she would do a cover song. All proceeds going to the Firesticks Alliance. But, this is Amanda Fucking Palmer we’re talking about. That single song turned into an 8 song record. Which turned into this gig. Again, with proceeds going to the Firesticks Alliance and Seed Mob. Amanda is American, Neil is British, but they adore Australia. The fact that the charities they chose are both Indegenious charities make it even more amazing.

Amanda started the show with My Favourite Things. An extention on the classic where she manages to drop a whole lot of problems in one single line. “Boris and megxit and scotty and isis”. When Amanda plays, she’s mesmerising. Voice loud, strong, holding so much emotion. Her fingers slamming down the keys on her keyboard.  At one point Amanda read an expert from her “There will be no intermission” artbook. She talked about grief. It hit hard. I now wish I had picked up the book at the show so I could re-read it.

images by Tasharoo

Seeing Neil read will be one of those things I’ll always be thankful to have witnessed. Like seeing Prince & Bowie in concert. Like seeing the Dresden Dolls. It’s special. His reciting of ‘A poem about invasion and extinctions, written for Australia Day’. Wow. Just wow. I loved seeing the way he and Amanda interacted on stage. The cutest. He also made a joke about liking Marmite and being ‘bi-spreadable’ after Amanda played Vegemite. I shouldn’t have been surprised he was witty.

Amanda & Neil were joined throughout the night by special guests. Fred Leone, a musician/ artist, a Butchulla Song Man. His solo performace gave me goosebumps. His voice, I don’t have the words. He joined in during other performances on the didgeridoo. Charm of Finches, two young Melbourne sisters with beautiful and haunting voices. I’ve been listening to them on spotify all of today. Talented singers and musicians. Tom Dickens, a singer/songwriter/musician who had performed with the Jane Austen Argument and Amanda Palmer on “Bad Wine and Lemon Cake” back in 2011. That duet sung live was one of the times I ended up in tears.

“Wait! There must be some mistake
– he can’t be dead
Take me instead!!!”

Missing from the line up was Missy Higgins, who joins Amanda on ‘The Beds are Burning’ duet on the fundraiser album. Sadly her father came down with the corona virus & as the world does, made a whole drama about it all. Amanda had the crowd yell out a message for Missy. She had us sing along, in Missys place during their duet. It was a moment, the whole crowd on her feet, Amanda at the front of the stage, microphone reached out to the hundreds of people singing at the top of their lungs. “How can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”

image by Tasharoo

I chatted with the couple next to me so I didn’t feel so alone. I bought an overpriced, but delicous ale. Wanted to buy alllll the merch, but settled on the signed prints. I walked away with my heart full. In a way, M did end up seeing Amanda and Neil with me. He is always with me in that piece of my heart he will forever hold.