The concert begins with an introduction by Margaret Cho, clad only in red burlesque feather fans. Then the Dresden Dolls take the stage to perform “Sex Changes”. Amanda was surprisingly covered up in a large tshirt rather than her signature velvet mini dress, but that was the only variant in their presentation. An impressive curtain climbing acrobat and dancers put on a punk-goth Vaudevillian Cirque de Soleilesque show during “Gravity”. Amanda and Brian ask the audience to sing along to “Modern Moonlight”, then slide into “Mrs. O” to better showcase Amanda’s limitless pipes. “Backstabber” is followed by “Coin-Operated Boy”, the latter causing the crowd to erupt into cheers and applause.
The Dolls emerge from behind their respective instruments for a cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two-Headed Boy”, during which Brian plays acoustic guitar. They return to the piano and drum set for “Mandy Goes To Med School”. Performance group Zen Zen Zo entertains the audience during “Slide”, and a colourful selection from The Brigade sing backup on “The Jeep Song”. The Dolls round out the main set with “Dirty Business”, the catchy “Shores Of California”, and Brian’s acoustic guitar as well as The Brigade return for the so-called finale “Sing”.
But of course there was more. The three song encore began with a mesmeric performance of “Mein Herr” that finally revealed the cabaret corset that had been hiding beneath Amanda’s tshirt. Trash McSweeney of Australian band The Red Paintings and some actual painters joined the duo for “Mad World”, which sounded more like a tribute to the Gary Jules cover rather than the Tears For Fears original. The true finale of the evening was my favourite Dolls tune (and second fave song ever) “Girl Anachronism”.
The Roundhouse DVD also includes two bonus duets (trios?) – “Missed Me” with Edward Ka-Spel of Legendary Pink Dots and “Delilah” with the magnificent Lene Lovich. There are also interviews with the various performers and extra footage from the concert, during which we finally see clips of Sxip Shirey’s noisy circus act and Margaret Cho’s bizarre burlesque number with Jason Webley.
One might expect my adoration of the Dolls to fade now that they have gained some relative fame, but I felt just as giddily fangirlish watching the Roundhouse performance as I did when I first heard their music years ago.