Amanda Palmer – Södra Teatern, Stockholm; Octtober 12th, 2019
Amanda Palmer’s ‘There will be no intermission’ concert in Stockholm was a beautiful gig at a gorgeous venue. For the first time on this tour I saw the full show as it was meant to be and there was indeed no intermission. I loved everything about it, but was unfortunately a bit handicapped by the cold I had. For the last few songs I felt feverish and had real trouble concentrating. Still, I loved being there and would not have wanted to miss this 🙂
With the afternoon concert done, I had finally managed to check in to my hostel, eat and rest just a little bit before I needed to set out again to go to the evening show. Sadly my cold had gotten much worse since the morning and I was feeling pretty shitty, tired and freezing. I had been drinking as much hot water with honey as I could manage and brought my travel mug with me to the show. Luckily the doors were already open when I arrived.
I walked upstairs to the venue and since the guy in front of me opened the door and walked right in I followed suit. Found my seat, which was once again on the left. Amanda was on stage, wondered what we were already doing there and let us know she had just wanted to sing some ABBA. Meanwhile two other people had arrivedband she still did the singing, disappointed when none of us sang along. “I’m from Norway!” the guy in front of me said “and I am German” I added. The other two were Swedish and did not know the lyrics either. Shame on us, everyone should know ABBA. 😉 I took out my camera and Subul, Amanda’s light tech spotted me from upstairs, so Amanda asked me if I’d take the post gig picture. Sure. Then she invited all of us to take a look at the venue from the stage, which we did. It was as gorgeous as she said it was, a beautiful old theater with much red and gold and angels on the ceiling. <3 Sadly, shortly after Amanda disappeared and promised they’d switch on some pre-gig music, we were kicked out, because they had not expected anyone to be inside already in the first place. Oh well, time for a toilet run then.
Eventually they let us back in and it felt as if the room had gotten considerably colder while we were outside. Maybe it was just my fever though. I settled in and waited, sipping the tea I had brought, glad for the warmth. I can’t remember what time exactly the show started, but we did not have to wait all that long. I think Amanda walked out on the stage and stepped into the audience from there, but I might be remembering that wrongly. Either way, she walked amongst us, playing Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ on the ukulele, stopping from time to time to say a word or a few to people. Everyone sang along loudly in the end (everyone except for me that is, because I still cannot remember the lyrics. 😉 Back on stage she announced she was going to do the full show this time around and there would be no intermission, because there was some sort of disco/clubbing starting downstairs at 11 pm.
Amanda sat down at the piano and let her fingers wander over the keys slowly, then launched into a powerful version of ‘Astronaut’. She let us know that, opposed to the first song, she wrote that one and spoke about her songwriting getting better around age 14, when she had a questionable taste in music and men and described what she liked. There are always some people in the audience who raise their hands when she asks if they also had questionable taste. 🙂 We heard about the guy she was with back then, her “corrupter” as she called him, thinking back then that being in such a relationship was sophisticated. She started doubting it when he tied her to a table as a birthday present for his friend.At this point the story switched to taking about her brother, who influenced her later music taste and her parents who did not understand what she was doing with the music. it all culminated in ‘Runs in the family’.
From her description, her parents were very kind to her too and she joked that her mom might have realized paying for new piano strings, after she broke them with her wild playing, might be cheaper than therapy. Amanda talked about making art and how hard it is to justify at times. someone called out “You save our lives” and she thanked her in response, but said that she actually did not, since she was not a doctor, but maybe she could help. The fan, who had called out that she did not kill herself thanks to Amanda. Wow. What can you respond to that?
We heard about Anthony and how he changed her perspective on life when he taught her about radical compassion. When many important people died in her life, she could not draw from it and write about it until she formed the Dresden Dolls. She spoke about the support she got from Brian and everyone cheered when she described how he pep talked her into going on stage even in front of only five people. She built a good community in those years too and continued writing a lot until 2012 when she got lots of pushback due to her poem about one of the Boston bombers. Al the emotions turned into one song, ‘Bigger on the inside’ and she played it for us. She cried and wiped her eyes, resulting in black mascara streaks across her cheeks.
We were back to the basement where Amanda was saved by the “birthday man”, who said “this is wrong, I am going to untie you.” Everyone cheered for him. Luckily the story ended like that and she dodged that bullet. The next “cheerful topic” Amanda introduced was abortion and she spoke about her first one before playing ‘Oasis’ for us. The reactions to the song were not exactly what she had expected at the time. Retrospectively she noted that defending it for being irony is not true, because compartmentalizing the abortion with the rest of her life and still being in school was exactly what she did then.
Before she played us the first Disney song of the night, ‘Part of your world’, Amanda spoke about her ambivalence regarding children and that the song was perfectly fitting to describe it if you hear the song with different narrators in mind. I’ll leave it at that, if you want to know the narrators you have to go see the show. 😉 She talked about her other abortions before finally getting pregnant again and wanting a child. I was already close to tears when she spoke about sitting at Anthony’s deathbed at seven month pregnant and as she played ‘Machete’, the tear started flowing in earnest.
From here on in my memory of the show is a bit fuzzy. I know I loved it, but the details escape me. My head felt a bit like it was filled with wool and I experienced everything in a bit of a daze. I remember there was much laughter, there always is. Considering the generally dark tone of the show, this is surprising, but only if you’ve never experienced the witty way Amanda tells stories. There is a lot of humor in the dark. Over the tour I have also noticed that people laugh at different things in different countries, but can’t pinpoint it.
We were about halfway through the show then, one song away from where there is usually an intermission, but wasn’t. I know that ‘A Mother’s Confession’ made me smile, especially when we all sang along “at least the baby didn’t die”. She did tell us if we needed to go out for a while we should just do it, even without intermission. She played ‘The Winner takes it all’ and this time people were singing along. After one verse it morphed into a fun version of ‘Coin-operated Boy’. Like every time I have seen the show, ‘Drowning in the Sound’ brought on tears. Not only do the lyrics resonate with me, but I also love the power of the music. ‘Voicemail for jill’ had my crying again. These two songs are my highlights of the album and the night. Of course there were stories in-between, when the tears dried and there were even some laughs.
All the stories and the music stuck with me and got through even to my stuffy head. I felt connected and did not want the show to end. Just when I thought it could not get any sadder after she shared the story of her miscarriage, Amanda gave us some relief with ‘Let it go’. Had anyone told me before seeing this show that she’d play Disney songs and make it work I would have had a hard time believing it, but it totally fits. 🙂 We cheered her back to the stage as soon as she left. One last story and finally ‘The Ride’, always a fitting close to the evening.
Amanda asked everyone to stay and I took a group picture from stage. So did another photographer. Strangely enough I thought that was it and missed the Patreon picture. I have to admit that I felt exhausted as soon as the last note was played and only wanted to get back to my hostel and into bed, so leaving was probably for the better. Despite feeling shitty, I#d still had a greta night. Thank you Amanda, thank you Stockholm.
Creep (Radiohead cover)
Runs In The Family
Bigger on the Inside
Part of your World
A Mother’s Confession
The Winner takes it all (ABBA cover) / Coin-operated boy
Drowning in the Sound
Voicemail for Jill
Let It Go (Idina Menzel cover)