“We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl”

P!nk – Rheinenergiestadion, Köln; July 5th 2019

Her show in Cologne was my fourth P!nk concert in ten years. Not much by my standards, but I have enjoyed each of them to the fullest in will go back on the next tour for sure. This show was one hell of a performance and didn’t leave anything to wish for. < 3

I’d been lucky enough to score front of stage tickets, FOS 1 to boot and was happy I didn’t have to get there all that early. Thanks to the chronically later German railway I arrived at the stadium roughly an hour before the gates opened. I had expected an extra entrance for FOS, but there were only two long lines for everyone. OK then. It all went surprisingly well and soon I found myself in third row. Wow, that was unexpected! I noticed right away that the stage was too high to see anything that was going on in the back, but decided to stay were I was anyway.

At 6 pm DJ KidCutUp started playing for us and I assumed he was one of the two support acts I had read about, but he wasn’t. He played good music to get me in the mood. Only he never finished any song. Still, people were singing along and the songs he selected suited me fine. He came back between bands and helped pass the time. 🙂

First support were Bang Bang Romeo from England. They were fun to watch, I liked their music a lot and they had good energy. The front woman was good at interacting with the crowd, but of course we didn’t know their songs. When they covered Four Non Blondes’ ‘What’s Up’ though, we were singing along though. Their current single ‘Shame on you’ was great too and I enjoyed the rest of the set as well. After about 25 minutes they were done and the stage was change for support number two.

Setlist

Shame on You
What’s Up? (4 Non Blondes cover)
Chemical
You & I
You Stand Alone
Invitation
Seven Nation Army (The White Stripes cover)

It was Vance Joy from Australia. I really liked his guitar playing and some of the melodies, but I did not care much for his singing. I can’t even pinpoint what bothered me about it, but somehow it was not for me. His band was good. He noted how they usually play for a lot fewer people. When asked everyone to wave to them even the people in the back did. 😉 He covered Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and while I liked the fact that he played a slowed down acoustic version of the song, it bothered me that he took liberties with the lyrics. It felt wrong. They did mostly their own songs and to my surprise I even knew one of them, ‘Riptide’. Around 8 they were done and the waiting time was a lot shorter now.

Setlist

Mess is mine
Georgia
Fire and the flood
Dancing in the dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)
We’re going home
Saturday sun
Lay it on me
All night long (Lionel Richie cover)
Riptide

I was convinced P!nk would make us wait at least half an hour, but about 20 minutes later her band and her dancers gathered on stage and the music started. Moments after we could see her swinging from what I can only describe as a giant chandelier, singing ‘Get the Party started’. Hell yeah! As I watched her clim up to the top of the chandelier and swing back down, all the while never missing a note, I already had a huge smile on my face. She never ceases to amaze me.

‘Beautiful Trauma’ was next and involved pink street lights being moved across the stage. Unfortunately the stage was a bit too high to see everything that was going on even at the front, but I enjoyed being close too much to move. 😉 I could still see a lot on the screen and the sound was great so everything was fine. P!nk was on the catwalk a lot and when I could not see her I enjoyed watching the dancers or the band. For ‘Who knew’ she was out on the far end of the catwalk in the center and I could finally see how long it was. The song was beautiful, it has always been one of my favorites. So far I was loving everything about this concert, from her singing to the selection of songs to the stage setup and the wonderful choreography for each song. It only got better from there. 🙂

On the big screen in the back we got a little film about “Revenge Land”, mock advertising a theme park to get rid of annoying boyfriends or girlfriends. The “un-fun house” offered lots of horrible rides. It was quite funny, warning in the end that side effects may include loss of life. This all lead to a great version of ‘Funhouse’ mixed with No Doubt’s ‘Just a Girl’. Towards the end of the song she introduced the band. P!nk received a few fan gifts along the way and commented on each of them. Apart from flowers she got a notebook labelled something along the lines of “Willow’s secret thoughts” and said “You gave me a look into the mind of my daughter”. Later, someone gave her a stuffed animal with a photo of her and Willow as a face and she thought Jameson might like it because this way he could punch both of them. 😀 She was sweet to everyone and took note of the fans who’d been following her for years, addressing some of them as she spotted them in the crowd. 🙂

“Do you know a dance called the Jitterbug?” P!nk asked us and some people nodded, but most didn’t reply. She let us know it was a dance her mom used to do and then she and her dance troupe showed us how during ‘Hustle’. It must have been hard work to put this show together. Watching them dance was pure joy to me, I could absolutely not stop smiling. For ‘Secrets’ she was high up over the stage again, this time hanging from silks together with one of her dancers. Just looking at them spinning made me feel dizzy. 😉

While the dancers came out in animal masks, all carrying different sources of light, we heard P!nk’s voice telling us a story about being on a cosmic journey. She joined them, twisting and twirling with them and the soft music turned into a powerful version of ‘Try’, the dance showing a relationship between fighting and making up, holding each other and pushing each other away. I noticed how people around me where singing, but they’d probably done that the whole time – only now I knew the words and could sing as well. 😉 A full moon rose over the stage for ‘Just give me a reason’ and I was again fascinated by two dancers swinging above stage on giant umbrellas. Meanwhile she was out to both sides of the stage and the catwalk, getting us to sing along. In retrospect I can appreciate the story arc from ‘Try’ into this. I’d have to see the show several times to notice these things while I’m there, but everything fit together very well. 🙂

She urged us to check out Bishop Briggs if we didn’t know who she was and covered her song ‘River’. I really liked it. 🙂 From water to ‘Just like fire’ with flames all over the stage and powerful drums that had me moving along. It sure was a show I could not stand still to. 😀 The next video interlude showed P!nk through all stages of her life and career coupled with bits from interviews where she talked about her motivations for making music and wanting to connect with people, stating that we are all the same in our desire to be loved. The video went on with images of women who fight for their rights and turned into a universal message of fighting for what we believe in and a world that offers acceptance and tolerance for everyone. By the time it was over everyone cheered and I was in tears. As if I didn’t already love her enough for being such a great role model and being outspoken about the issues she cares about. If she is not an inspiration I don’t know who is. <3 A killer version of ‘What about us’ followed and I cried silently for a while as the show went on.

‘For now’ was gorgeous and then she brought out Wrable to sing ’90 Days’ with her. They sounded great together. 🙂 When she walked to the front of the catwalk once more she took Justin with her to play guitar. She told us we’d have a sing along and that we could hug the person next to us if they’d allow us to do it. They played Cindy Lauper’s ‘Time after Time’ – it was nothing short of perfect. <3 Even the sing along during the chorus sounded really nice. They stayed up front during ‘Walk me home’ and were joined by Eva on bass, Mark on drums, Jessy on violin and Stacy for ‘I am here’. They rocked the stadium as much as you can with an acoustic number. The rest of the band left again and Justin remained for a while. ‘Fuckin Perfect’ was the last song she played up front before moving back to the main stage.

The video interlude that followed made me go through a wide array of emotions from confusion to being upset with the world to being hopeful. P!nk talked about her daughter telling her she felt she was ugly because “I look like a boy with long hair”. P!nk’s reaction, after pondering where that might have come from and who would say such a thing to a six year old, was making a power point presentation of androgynous artists, who live their truth despite not fitting the norm and putting herself in the same category, because people have deemed her as too masculine, too strong, with too many opinions. The message was that we should not change who we are, but teach the world to see different kinds of beauty. Absolutely! What better song to follow this than ‘Raise your glass’? Time to party, jump and sing along. 😀 She used the song to introduce her dance troupe. ‘Blow me (one last kiss) ended in P!nk being carried along the catwalk by her dancers and thrown up in the air. ‘Can we pretend’ took us to the encore with confetti dropping on our heads and everyone in the audience standing up in their seats.

Soon she was back out, stepped into a harness and flew over the entired stadium, turning upside dow, doing somersaults, twisting every way and all the while singing ‘So what?’. It was bloody amazing! It all ended with ‘Glitter in the air’ – no acrobatics, no big choreography, just P!nk calmly walking up and down and singing. From somewhere she grabbed a rainbow flag and carried it with her like a cape. Beautiful! 🙂 As the music rang out she waved to all of us, ran back to the main stage and was gone. I don’t think I was the only one who remained stunned for a while, just staring at the stage. I can honestly say I have never seen another performer like her and I loved every second of her show. Thank you, it was a joy to see you!

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Get the Party Started
Beautiful Trauma
Just Like a Pill
Who Knew
– Video Interlude: Revenge land
Funhouse / Just a Girl
Hustle
-Video Interlude: Secrets
Secrets
– Video Interlude: Forests
Try
Just Give Me a Reason
River (Bishop Briggs cover)
Just Like Fire
– Video Interlude: Women are strong
What About Us
For Now
90 Days
Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper cover)
Walk Me Home
I Am Here
F**kin’ Perfect
– Video Interlude: My daughter is beautiful
Raise Your Glass
Blow Me (One Last Kiss)
Can We Pretend

Encore
So What
Glitter in the Air

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It’s the way we sing that makes ’em dream

Live – Astra Kulturhaus, Berlin; July 1st, 2019

Back in January my friend L. told me she was going to see Live later this year. M reaction? Wait, what? The still exist? I honestly had no idea. First time I heard about them was in 1999, around the time ‘The Distance to here’ was released. I loved that album. The first three appealed to me too and I enjoyed the two follow ups, but ‘Songs from Black Mountain’ disappointed me and I lost track after that. However, back in the early 2000s I would have given a lot to see them perform, so when I heard they were on tour again and I found a date that fit my schedule I didn’t hesitate to buy a ticket. The show was everything I had hoped for and well worth the trip to Berlin.

Arrived in Berlin in good time and relaxed until 5:30, remembering that people usually line up later in this city. I was right – when I arrived at about a quarter to six there were only a handful of people in front of me. The line was a lot longer when the doors opened 45 minutes later, but that didn’t matter, it was an easy front row. Still, for the longest time I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this. Not only was it too warm inside the venue, I also had a stupid summer cold that kept me coughing so I didn’t exactly feel great. Either way, I was front row for a band I had been wanting to see for ages and I was going to make the best of it.

First up were Tidalwave. They made good music as far as I can tell, but the sound was pretty bad, so I could not hear much of the singing. When the singer talked it was OK, but as soon as the instruments set in his voice got a bit lost in the mix. They were rather enthusiastic though, always urging us on and even getting some of the audience to jump. I think it could have been a lot of fun with better sound.

when he announced their latest single, ‘Solace’, the singer told us it was about the one special person that is always there for you, no matter what you go through in life and how he hoped we knew a person like this. I certainly do and many in the audience seemed to agree. The song was really nice. Other than that I didn’t have enough energy to really go with it, but they were a good warm up overall.

Setlist

Saturate
Ride
Shadow
Solace
Shame
1992

The stage was changed quickly and while I was waiting for the man band of the night I hoped the sound would improve so I’d actually be able to hear the words. I resolved to move to the back if the sound was too terrible and turned around to see that the venue had filled a lot more since I’d last checked. It wasn’t completely packed, but there were a lot of people wearing an assortment of Live T-shirts. This was going to be good.

At 9 pm Live walked out and were greeted with loud cheers. The had not only two guitarists, but also two drummers. 🙂 I wondered how many of the songs I would know or even recognize since I had not listened to the band in a very long time. They started with ‘All over you’ and at least it seemed familiar. Unlike all the people around me I could not sing along though. Still, the sound was good enough and I absolutely loved their energy. It was hard to take my eyes off the stage and why should I? The show continued with ‘Selling the Drama’, always one of my favorites. Couldn’t remember much of the words either, but loved every second of it. Hell yeah, this was why I’d come here.

Ed spoke to us about the many bands that had influenced them and how they wanted to cover one, hoping they’d do the song justice. Said band was from Athens, Georgia. From there they launched into a brilliant version of R.E.M.’s ‘Losing my Religion’ and finally there was a song I could sing along to. Ed came closer, holding the mic out towards us and while I saw him standing right in front of me I knew I wasn’t going anywhere, no matter how the sound was going to be for the rest of the show. It was just too much fun watching him and the guys up close.

It was hot where we stood and I could only imagine how much hotter it must have been on the stage. “We wrote this song in a desert,” Ed said, “and it feels like a desert here.” He praised us for being there in such heat while sweat was running down his forehead and his shirt was already soaked. It did not keep him from powering through ‘THe Distance’ and then telling us about they town the are from and how the next song still fits because it was a Trump town (or something along those lines). They got lots of cheers for that and we were singing along to ‘Shit Towne’ at the top of our lungs. What a great run of song so far, keeping me happy. 😀

I did not recognize the next one, ‘Iris’, but after he told us how some songs never get old and the following one was 20 some years old and still fitting – ‘They Stood Up for Love’. Then the moment I had been hoping for. Without any announcement or much ado they started ‘The Dolphin’s Cry’. That song has always cut me deeply and it still worked. “The way you’re bathed in light, reminds me of that night…” *sigh* I even choked up a little, it was absolutely perfect. “We wish we had written the next song, but we were just a twinkle in our mother’s eyes then” Ed said before they played The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’. So far the setlist could not have been any better.

Somewhere along the way, Ed stepped on to the barrier right next to me, leaned out and shook some hands. He then stepped down and stood there in front of. I wasn’t sure if it was OK to hug him so I didn’t, but carefully gave him a slight pat on the side. A few others did the same and when he moved on his sweat was dripping on me. People leaned forward to hold his hand and sang with him. 🙂 Later he came down again twice, but this time walked off the stage on one side and back on the other side, high-fiving people as he walked by. I still remember the happy look on one woman’s face and he held her hand while he leaned out into the audience and sang. 😀 It was a great show and ‘Lakini’s Juice’, ‘I Alone’ and ‘White, Discussion’ lead us to the encores.

So far it had been a happy nostalgic trip down memory lane and I was ready for more, yelling and screaming for them to come back along with everyone else. Ed told us he was going to sing a couple of acoustic songs, grabbed a guitar and dedicated the first one to all the mothers and daughters in the house, telling us he has three daughters. It was ‘Heaven’. Sadly, my stupid cough chose that moment to return and I’m sure I ruined a few people’s recording of the song because I could not get it under control right away. Sorry. ‘Turn my head followed’ with the band joining him in the end to launch right into a beautiful version of ‘Run to the Water’. The final song of the night was ‘Lightning Crashes’. It became a great finale with one last loud sing along and some awesome guitar work. The show could not have been any better and I was happy I went to see them. Sometimes it does not work out to see the heroes from our younger days, but this time it did. 😀

pictures of this concert

Setlist

All Over You
Selling the Drama
Losing My Religion (R.E.M. cover)
The Distance
Shit Towne
Iris
They Stood Up for Love
The Dolphin’s Cry
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones cover)
Lakini’s Juice
I Alone
White, Discussion

Heaven (acoustic)
Turn My Head (acoustic)
Run to the Water
Lightning Crashes

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