Amanda Palmer – Colosseum Theater, Essen; September 19th, 2019
Essen was my second stop on Amanda Palmer’s ‘There will be no Intermission’ tour and it was already a special show. Exhausted by going through emotionally draining three plus hours night after night, Amanda had decided to give herself a break and do a total request show instead. It was brilliant if less of an emotional roller-coaster than the show I saw in Berlin. I heard songs that I thought I was not going to hear on this tour and some I did not expect at all. 😀 It was lots of fun and clocked in at almost three hours. What more could anyone ask for?
The announcement that she was going to do something different this night came via Amanda’s Patreon and social media. As far as I could see there was a wave of support and people telling her to recharge and do whatever she felt was the right thing to do. Personally I was looking much forward to an unusual show and wondering what it would bring. 🙂
The Patreon meet up was going to take place after the show this time around so I didn’t have to leave work early and still made it to the venue before the doors opened. After some discussion they even let me in with my camera and were really nice about it the whole time. I had not asked beforehand after all. Hung out in the lobby and watched as Amanda walked around with a pen and paper asking people for requests. I heard a few good ones, but never got a chance to voice mine. It didn’t matter though, the song I had in mind was unlikely to be played anyway.
Everything started a little late this time, but as soon as the lights went down all chatter ceased to be and the room grew quiet. We had all turned our heads towards the stage until we heard the sounds of a ukulele and Amanda came walking in from the back, singing Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. Slowly she made her way through the audience, off to the side and back again to the center where she finally stood leaning against the stage. For the chorus we all sang with her. It was the perfect start for an unusual show. She climbed up on stage and stuck with the ukulele to play ‘On my mind’ – I love that song. Again, her mic stand was set up right in front of my seat, only that I was on the other side taking pictures. 😉 It didn’t matter though, because she stayed center stage. Talking about the tour she explained how she’d had a few nights on tour where she’d felt sick of all this dark material and thus this show was going to be different. She gave us the stories she usually tells “in broad strokes”, shortening it to the essentials and she’d come back to this during the evening, always starting with “At this point in the show…”
From here on in she played the piano for the rest of the show. As she sat down, she promised she’d play every single request she got, unless we ran out of time. Someone asked her to play ‘Drive’ and she joked that he’d lead her to breaking that promise. After a while she asked for a pen, so she cut scratch the songs she had played off of her list. Before that though, we were in for a huge surprise. Amanda explained how she’d had the song on her mind for a while and tried it out backstage, yet never expected anyone to request it, When she walked out to the lobby to ask people what they wanted to hear, the first person she asked had requested it though and she wondered what sort of witchcraft was at work here. Even as she started playing I still had know idea what it was, but some people seemed to recognize it. The piano melody sure was nice and she exclaimed “in the style of Tori Amos”. Then she started singing and suddenly I knew it was Die Ärzte’s ‘Schrei nach Liebe’ – everyone else recognized it then too and there were huge cheers. It was the most positive “What the fuck?”- moment ever! Not in a million years would I have thought of requesting, much less hearing that song. It was absolutely brilliant!
When it was over I rushed to my seat, because I was only allowed to take pictures from the side for the first three songs. Next up was ‘Astronaut’ – the last time I heard that must have been in Dublin the previous year. I was loving it so far. 🙂 Amanda’s shortened version of he story was quite funny and she joked she could considerably shorten the show. She then decided to play a song that nobody requested and it turned out to be ‘Seeräuber Jenny’, the Brecht/Weill song she had already played at the ninja gig in Vienna. Still, I had not expected to hear it live. What a cool song. To my right sat a women who knew all of the words and helped out when Amanda stopped. It was the chords she didn’t remember though, not the lyrics.
‘The Killing Type’ was perfect! By now I had realized I wasn’t going to cry much that night, or at least I had not yet. It was a nice experience. Amanda mused about telling us some of the stories from the show since some of the songs had been requested. She talked about being an artists as a job, if an unusual one and poured some wine. We then heard how the show seemed less funny in Germany and Austria, wondering what caused it and if it was a humor thing. Well, this night we sure laughed a lot. “Show-show” or not, of course she had to talk about abortion, because the topic is important, especially in countries where it is not legal. I certainly would not know how to write about it so I understand vaguely how hard it must be to write a good abortion song. For a moment I thought she’d give us The Dresden Dolls’ ‘Mandy Goes to Med School’, especially because she started playing it, but it was actually ‘Oasis’ she had in mind. After a little nudging we even did the “Beatles part” of the song with her.
I had never heard ‘Runs in the Family’ before, but it certainly kicked ass! Next was not only a familiar one, but a song I’d been hoping for: ‘Ampersand’. <3 Amanda noted how well things were going and that she had not yet played any song from the album. She talked about how much she loves it and wants people to hear it, but if we really wanted to support her we should join her Patreon. Hell yes. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. regarding music. There were quite a few patrons in the room too so maybe Germans aren’t that suspicious of this type of support after all. 😉 On a more serious note I am glad there are so many of us because it would be a fundamental loss if Amanda had not had the guts to make this record, which she only made, because we collectively had her back.
‘Drowning in the Sound’ lead to talking about climate change and the following day’s global climate strike that she will join in Antwerp. In the light of everything happening on our planet, the next song, Grauzone’s ‘Eisbär’ got a different meaning, because nobody in their right mind would want to be a polar bear these days. Surely the line about polar bears never having to cry does not hold true any more, but then it might have been ironic to begin with. I don’t think I’d ever heard that one before, but I kinda liked it.
Amanda spoke about losing Anthony to cancer and wondered which song to play next. We heard a little bit about ‘The Art of Asking’ and how all of the problems we face these days come down to having bought into the myth of not being interdependent, but as mammals we are and we’d do better if we realized that. This got her back to Anthony and how, paradoxically, he was into yoga as much as weapons and self defense. Of course it was ‘Machete’ that followed. Strangely it did not make me cry this time.
Afterwards someone asked her if she wanted whiskey and I wondered how the woman who offered it had smuggled it it. Later I saw it was in a bracelet – cool. Amanda made a weird face when trying it. 😀 Someone asked her if she was still ambivalent about children, because she had mentioned it before, so she replied that it was a little late for that and elaborated a bit more on how everyone around her seemed to clearly wanted a child or not. When she had Ash then she refused to have any help for the first four months, much to Neil’s dismay. She managed though and claimed it was worth it for the song she got out of it – ‘A Mother’s Confession’. Our background choir was a bit lame though, at least the first time around. We learned.
“Actually, no-one requested this next song, but I don’t care…” lead to one of the most important song on the record and finally with ‘Voicemail for Jill’ the tears came. It took Amanda 20 years to write the abortion song she needed to write, but it was worth the wait. I can’t think of a better song on the topic. It is one of my favorites on the album too. She talked about being in Dublin at the time of the abortion referendum and writing the song afterwards. Somehow I keep thinking she already played it at that show, but I am wrong. It did not exist then. ‘Death Thing’ was the new song she played at that show. Also I do remember when she asked us on Patreon what we would say to someone who was going to get an abortion.She said it should be required reading for anyone who was going to get an abortion because there was so much compassion. <3
‘Let it go’, once again in German, because she wanted to leave us “on a slightly happier note”. First she told us one last story though, the one about her miscarriage, ending with saying that there are so many things people never tell you about and so much in life that we don’t know we are equipped for. The song, after that, made perfect sense and it actually did make me smile.
She said goodbye then to standing ovations and we clapped her back for one encore. It had gotten late and she had not managed to play all of our requests after all, but wanted to leave us with another collaboration with the patrons, telling us all the things people replied to the question “What are you afraid of”. ‘The Ride’ perfectly summed up everything and together with the Berlin show I had now heard all of the songs she had intended to play for us every night. 🙂 It was a great night!
When it was over all the patrons gathered in the foyer for a picture with Amanda. First we did a smily one and then one where we all pretended to be shocked or outraged by the art on the wall. A few people got hugs before she disappeared backstage telling us she’d come out to sign in ten minutes or so. She did and we had to be quick, so everyone got a chance. They made us get in line and there was no time for pictures or many words. I had so much to say, but I condensed it to thanking her for the show and the one in Berlin and getting a hug. It was all I wanted. It was a really good hug too. <3
Creep (Radiohead cover)
On my Mind
Schrei nach Liebe (Die Ärzte)
Seeräuber Jenny (Brecht/Weill)
The Killing Type
Runs in the Family
Drowning in the Sound
Eisbär (Grauzone cover)
A Mother’s Confession
Voicemail for Jill
Lass jetzt los (Let it go in German) (Idina Menzel cover)