Into the Pit: 029: The Dresden Dolls – Live at the Leadmill Sheffield – 07-May 2006

Frankly, I can’t think of a single band that sound anything like the melting pot of sound that DeVotchKa boil up. A truly unique mix of eastern-European folk music, indie rock and tinges of a mariachi feel, not to mention rather proficient with their instruments (we counted about fifteen – played by just four of them, including the drummer playing his trumpet at the same time at one point!), they were damned good fun.

The Dresden Dolls
Live @ Leadmill, Sheffield
07-May 2006

Not to mention being one of the best received support bands I have seen in years, the set was as varied as it possibly could be. In amongst the vast variety of their own stuff, their cover of Venus In Furs was as glorious as it was bizarre, a track with the guest appearances of both Dresden Dolls ended with Amanda throwing celery and spring onions into the crowd (no, really), while closer Such A Lovely Thing was every bit as good as the title – the melody being naggingly familiar, but I’m buggered if I know where from! (The track is on their myspace page, can anyone help?)

Missed the street performance act in the side room (called Bang On!) as the venue was rather crammed, but not to worry, I don’t think?

And so onto The Dresden Dolls. Another band, like the support, that perhaps (for once) deserve the title of “unique”. Yeah, two-person bands are hardly new now, but none of them have the sound or style like them. The drama/performance background of Amanda especially shines through, and that coupled with the horsing around of Brian, and obvious musical chemistry (for want of a better description), let alone their mastery of their respective instruments (piano and drums) makes for an enthralling performance.

Things veer from the uptempo bounce of opener Sex Changes to the slow drawl of Missed Me, and that is just the first two songs. Coin-Operated Boy gets a rapturous reception, with a subtle tweaking of the lyrics making it ever clearer – if it wasn’t already clear enough – just what the song is about, while the strange and playful covers in the middle of the set are just great. Yep, only these guys, surely, could step from Black Sabbath classic War Pigs (with an astounding translation of the guitar work to piano) to The Postal Service‘s Such Great Heights! Oh, and not forgetting T-Rex‘s Cosmic Dancer!

Let us not take the attention away from their own songs, though, with new tracks Mrs.O and Backstabber sounding particularly great, although a chilling version of Delilah topped it all. Final track Half Jack ran it bloody close, though.

Sadly, Brian injured his wrist, meaning that the likely candidates for the encore disappeared. Not to leave us disappointed, Amanda returned solo to bring the morose Me & the Minibar, and finally, a glorious Hallelujah, which in terms of the many covers of this Leonard Cohen classic ranks as second only to the perfect Jeff Buckley version.

What else is there to say? Well, if there is a better live band I see in 2006, I’d like to know how they’re going to do it…

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