Dresden Dolls delight at Tampa Theatre

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The Dolls performed songs from each of their three studio albums, punctuating the lyrics with exaggerated facial expressions and hand gestures. During the pain-soaked torch song “The Gardener” Palmer disappeared from the stage only to reappear on the balcony, singing as she strolled through the aisles. The duo’s best known-song, “Coin-Operated Boy,” found Palmer illustrating the lyric by miming a marionette while the crowd sang along to every word. About an hour into the set, the bassist from opening band Two Ton Boa joined the duo. Palmer got behind the drums and Viglione wielded an electric guitar and sang lead on The Beastie Boys party anthem “Fight For Your Right.” The crowd responded with euphoric yelps and all manners of dancing.

The Dolls dipped into the Cabaret songbook and offered a jubilant “Mein Herr” that elicited rows of beaming faces. The duo then fired off a ferocious cover of Black Sabbath’s grim antiwar screed “War Pigs” to close the show. The two disparate numbers served as a potent finale and apt reminder of The Dolls’ ability to incorporate wide-ranging styles into their distinctive punk cabaret act. That eclecticism and the duo’s abundant enthusiasm resulted in one of the most entertaining concert experiences of recent memory.


Dresden Dolls

Thurs., Jan. 10, Tampa Theatre, Tampa

The Dresden Dolls made their Bay area debut last night before a packed Tampa Theatre, delivering a spectacle of classic cabaret and glam-rock that enthralled from start to finish. There truly weren’t any dull moments throughout the show — a feat rarely achieved by even the most acclaimed touring bands. The Boston duo successfully wooed the young, lively (predominantly gay and lesbian) audience with dramatically performed originals largely focused on the savagery and absurdity of love. The 90-minute set was peppered with judiciously chosen covers and charming asides regarding such things as the grandeur of the historic venue wherein the concert took place.

Singer/keyboardist Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione took the stage at 9:30 sharp. Both musicians wore matching black military caps and trench coats reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. The show opened with an appropriately bombastic rendition of “In the Flesh?” The first track off Pink Floyd’s The Wall, it includes the line “Are there any queers in the theatre tonight?” Palmer delivered it with a triumphant smile and the audience cheered wildly. This set the tone for an evening that amounted to a joyous celebration of diversity underscored by the numerous concertgoers donning top hats and flowing dresses that recalled German fashion of the 1920s.

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