LIVE: Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer @ Bard College, 9/5/12

Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman

Review by Greg Haymes

“This evening has been gloriously odd,” remarked author Neil Gaiman toward the end of his 75-minute reading at Bard College’s Fisher Center in Annandale-On-Hudson earlier this month.

The renowned sci-fi/fantasy writer found himself temporarily living in the Hudson Valley recently, while his wife, provocative rocker Amanda Palmer, was in residency at Bard College developing video and the stage show for the tour in support of her new album, “Theatre Is Evil.” So, he apparently decided that it was the perfect time and place for an out-of-town try-out for a new short story that he had finished just five or six days earlier.

“It’s a fairy story,” he explained. “It’s the first time I’ve done a big sort-of fairy-story reinvention probably since I wrote a story called ‘Snow, Glass, Apples’ a while ago (1994). I wrote the story, and I thought, ‘Good. That’s my story written in first draft. I wonder if it works?’ And I realized that I had absolutely no idea.”

Hence the test-drive at Bard, announced only a few days previous, but all 900 seats of the Fisher Center’s main theater were packed with college students, local hipster/nerds and Gaiman-heads, some of whom had traveled more than halfway across the country to be the first to hear the new Gaiman work, “The Sleeper’s Spindle.” Yeah, he’s got that kind of rock-star drawing power.

And, yes, the story was a delight – an inventive, 50-minute, fairy-tale mash-up featuring a plague of sleep, a trio of dwarves, a bethrothed queen and, of course, a magical journey across kingdoms. And if he actually had any doubts, they were certainly erased by the crowd’s enthusiastic response. Yes, the story worked…

He book-ended the new story with a a pair of older poems – the wry “The Day the Saucers Came” to open the evening and the more solemn “In Relig Oran” to cap it off.

But as an added bonus, Amanda Palmer also lept up on stage and fired up a rollicking, full-steam-ahead solo rendition of her “Ukulele Anthem,” before she headed off the Fisher Center’s other theater to prepare for her own Theatre Is Evil concert…

Review of Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra’s post-Neil Gaiman concert at Bard

Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer performing “Ukulele Anthem”

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