First up was 'An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer' at the Hackney Empire, which was tied in with Neil and Amanda guest-editing an edition of the New Statesman magazine.
Despite the New Statesman having made a real mess of the ticket sales, I was fortunate enough to have not one, but two good friends who offered me tickets, which meant that not only did I get to go, but I also got to put friends in touch with each other so they could go too - so there ended up being 5 of us meeting up before the event (although we did not all get to sit together at the event ) for drinks and food and general catching up.
We drank beer (after a struggle with an entirely un-trained bartender) and bumped into further friends and acquaintances, and we ate delicious ramen at Tonkotsu, before we headed to the Hackney Empire.
After a brief introduction on behalf of the New Statesman, Neil and Amanda came on stage, and Neil read a new poem, Credo, (which is published in the magazine) then there was a mix of Amanda and Neil's performances, and a number of special guests.
Guests included Roz Kaveney, who is a writer and activist, performed a very personal poem, comedian (and transvestite vegan) Andrew O'Neill who performed what may have been the longest drawn-out joke ever, (and later, a wonderful reconstruction of the genesis of the 'knock-knock' joke....Writer Hayley Campbell, who read her piece from the magazine, a horrifying picture of what may happen if google and twitter ever publishes all our un-sent drafts, and comedian and writer Mitch Benn, who, in keeping with the 'saying the unsayable' theme of both the evening, and the magazine, performed a song written in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders.
|Neil, Roz Kaveney, Haley Campbell, Andrew O'Neill, Amanda Palmer (and bump) Mitch Benn|
But despite the slightly free-form style (or perhaps because of it!) the evening worked well, and little things like Hayley Campbell being introduced after, rather than before, her reading with a mix of light-hearted and more serious takes on the theme of saying the unsayable, the age of outrage, censorship and its effects - Neil read a (very funny, but also scary) article about hosting a table at the PEN benefit where Charlie Hebdo received an award, and his story Babycakes (which he described as the only story he has written which disturbed him)
|Amanda playing the Ukulele Song|
As always when seeing Neil and Amanda on stage together, I loved seeing the obvious and open affection between them, and enjoyment of one another's performances.
At the end, Amanda returned for an encore, playing the Ukulele song, with a short, pregnancy acid-reflux induced interruption.
It was a whole lot of fun,and I think, on appearances, it was mostly fin for those on stage, as well as those of us off stage.
And yes, I have now bought a copy of their New Statesman edition!
Thanks again to Hellie and Lyle,who booked tickets.
a couple more pictures on Flickr, all from the curtain call, as photos were not allowed during the performance itself (and anyway, I was concentrating on what was being said!)