The amazingly talented Amanda Palmer (of Dresden Dolls fame) is stuck in Iceland, due to our fancy new volcano bringing about THE END OF AIR TRAVEL AS WE KNOW IT. Never one to pout, Amanda instead tweeted her way to the Blue Lagoon, before staging an excellent “Ninja-Gig” at Kaffibarinn last night – where she played for three hours straight, telling stories, forgetting lyrics, breaking the piano and generally giving the performance of a lifetime. Grapevine joined up with the luscious songstress after her show for a smoke and some words.
“You learn everything you need to know about a city, and the people of a city, when you do a three hour spontaneous gig at a bar there. You really learn, and I know because I’ve done a lot of it. Every one is different, but they wind up characterizing that city. And when you come back, you learn more and more and more.
Especially when you play for a full three hours, like you just did. That was an interesting event to observe. Was it fun?
Yes, very fun.
For this reporter, it managed to embody and encapsulate everything I love about music. Spontaneity, talent, not taking yourself seriously. And love. So from Icelanders as a collective, I would like to say: thank you.
You know, music, I was just talking with my friend Jason Webley about this, because I’m about to go to Africa and he just got back from there. And he was talking about the ways people use music over there, versus how we treat it.
You know, the way it is in their live, the role it plays and how totally different it is in Europe or America. How music is just part of things, a big part of everyday life. People enjoy it, people do it, people engage with it. It’s not heavily commercialized, it’s not a game, it’s not a contest – it’s just a way to bring people together, and a way to be happy.
Hearing that, you realize: We’ve gotten so lost in our culture. We don’t even do it anymore, we don’t even think about doing it anymore. We’re so fucked up and polluted that we can’t imagine that it’ll be fun to bring together a group of people with no agenda, really, just to play music and engage in life. How fucked up is that as a culture, seriously?
Yes! Anyway, would you mind telling Grapevine’s readers what you are doing here?
I’m here by accident. I landed here for a 45-minute layover, and my flight to London was cancelled. So I twittered and found a friend, and she drove me to the Blue Lagoon. And I am here. Now, I am here.
You found a friend?
A friend of a friend of Neil’s, actually [Amanda’s loverman Neil Gaiman, author of such classics as Sandman, American Gods and many others]. He’s been here; I think that’s how he met Hera. And the girl who picked me up is Hera’s childhood friend, Indiana. And she called me; she got my number from Hera and offered to pick me up from the airport. She’s been chauffeuring me around ever since.
And how did this show come about?
Uhm. People. And they’re beautiful, people. I was twittering that I was in town and stuck, and Indiana and I went back to my hotel to drop my stuff off. We were going to go for a quiet dinner somewhere, I was going to eat and then I was going to go back to my hotel and email. When we dropped my stuff off and I checked my email, I had a message from this guy Ben who said “I am a small promoter and I’d love to help you if you want to do a ninja gig tonight,” because that’s what I do.
And I called him and I asked, “do you know a bar?” And he called around – it was around five or six today – three hours until the show. He called a place called Bakkus and no one answered there, then he called this place and they answered. So here we are. And I’ll play Bakkus tomorrow [today] if my flight doesn’t leave. In three hours we made this happen. It was beautiful. I love the Internet that way.
Did you see anything cool today?
I went to the Blue Lagoon, and then I went with Indiana up and down the main street here and we went to a couple of cafés. She took me to Seabaron and I ate some whale
How’d you like the whale?
I haven’t eaten meat since I was 21. I wanted to try it. I got lots of people pissed at me on Twitter . “Rahh, save the whales, save the whales!” And I’m like… “yeah…” You have to try everything once. It tasted like steak.
So, you’re stuck here. And you told the crowd you were playing a sold out show in Glasgow on Saturday?
I don’t think I’m going to make it, but Neil is working on getting me on a cargo ship. Seriously. He’s at work.
Any thoughts on the eruption?
I love it. I can’t think of a better place to be trapped.
They’re saying it could go on for years…
There will be boats.
Photos by non-photographer (but excellent writer) Bob Cluness. You might catch Amanda Palmer playing a show at Bakkus tonight. Then again, you might not. You probably won’t, as she just tweeted that she’s going to Glasgow. Thanks for the show, Amanda.