“Live At The Roundhouse London” by The Dresden Dolls

Artist: Dresden Dolls
Title: “Live At The Roundhouse London”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 7/10/2007
Genre: Punk Cabaret Rock
Rating: 4/5

This incredible concert DVD film captures The Dresden Dolls in concert at London’s famous Roundhouse which was is a venue that once hosted amazing events by The Rolling Stones, The Who and many, many more. While closed for a number of years, its re-opening in 2006 found the band being able to deliver their unique enterprise to a sold out audience and deliver music from their existing two albums, the self-titled “Dresden Dolls” and “Yes, Virginia” – its follow up. The very difficult to classify as one particular kind of group, the best way to label them if such a thing is required of you is as “Gothic Punk Art Cabaret Rock” or something along those lines. The band features both Amanda Palmer (keyboards/vocals) and Brian Viglione (drums/vocals/guitar) and while only a duo they manage to make some incredibly powerful music. The show is a rousing piece of entertainment from beginning to end and draws you into the mix from the very first number which is “Sex Changes” from “Yes, Virginia”. The band delivers of number of styles in the sound and sometimes comes off as something you would hear during a Broadway show to something that one might find going on in a seedy downtown Burlesque joint. In the live sense they sound terrific and Palmer is a madwoman behind the keyboards while the drums are pounded often mercilessly by Viglione. He uses a simple four piece kit and that seems to be all that is necessary to bring the power to their tunes. He is a very solid drummer and shows that keeping it straight forward is something to be admired. As a percussionist myself, I loved a lot of the tempos and patterns he was offering up. Palmer on the keyboards comes off as a natural entertainer and she rarely sits still during the performance, often looking like she is going to launch off of the stool that she sits on during the show.

The highlights of the show are many and while Palmer is the main person who addresses the audience during the show, Viglione mugs it up from behind the drum kit and appears to be quite the fan favorite as well. There is a healthy amount of interaction with the audience and at one point we find actors from the bands ensemble of additional performers doing their thing while in the crowd. The show apparently featured a score of street performers, artists, and visual entertainers but we don’t see what happened pre show and instead learn about them all in the comprehensive booklet that is included in the DVD package. Some of my favorites from the shows set list fell upon “Backstabber”, “Coin-Operated Boy”, “Sing”, and “Mad World”. “Coin-Operated Boy” was the first song that I ever heard from the band so it’s stuck in my head and I loved the way the harmonies worked during “Backstabber”. “Sing” was very powerful as the song while a softer number from the band found the audience singing along with the group and many holding sparklers that gave a wonderful atmosphere to the tune. They are also joined by all of the performers who opened up the show during the songs climax and I can only imagine how awesome this must have been to be a part of for these assembled fans. “Mad World” is a cover of the Tears For Fears track and they are joined by Trash McSweeney of the Red Paintings for this one as one of the closing numbers of the night. One of the bonus numbers features the vocal talents of Lene Lovich who sings “Delilah” with them and I am wondering why this was not just left in the set as opposed to making it something that you needed to scan menus to find. The show was recorded in 2006 which was done in support of the at the time new second CD. Even though they had two albums, the group also delivers some covers and rare tracks. “Mein Herr” is a tune from the “Cabaret” musical and done very well for those fans of the show.

There are some additional band interviews which are interesting, but for me it was all about enjoying the performance since I had never attended one of their gigs even though the idea had crossed my mind to do so. They sound good enough in concert for me to look into them in the future should the chance come up and I felt that even if you were not a fan of the band or had yet really given their stuff a go that you can easily enjoy this as well. It’s very accessible and keeps your attention which is a very good thing to find on a DVD release. The only criticism I had was in the lack of footage from the opening performers. That would have made for some great bonus content.

Track Listing:
1. Sex Changes
2. Gravity
3. Modern Moonlight
4. Mrs. O
5. Backstabber
6. Coin-Operated Boy
7. Two-Headed Boy
8. Mandy Goes To Med School
9. Lonesome Organist Rapes Page Turner
10. Slide
11. The Jeep Song
12. Dirty Business
13. Shores Of California
14. Sing
15. Mein Herr
16. Mad World
17. Girl Anachronism
18. Missed Me (bonus)
19. Delilah (bonus)

Official Website: http://www.dresdendolls.com

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