Primal screaming, intermission ice cream and hand holding

Amanda Palmer – Union Chapel, London; December 6th, 2019

The show at Union Chapel in London was my 8th concert on Amanda Palmer’s There will be no Intermission tour and it was a beautiful one. She had been on a break for a month and had said it was hard getting back into the show the previous night, but then and there it all came together. She delivered a tight, spot-on show. The stories and setlist had evolved to the final stage and everything was in its place. The venue was packed, my view was great, there was a lot of laughter and some tears, a great night overall.

My day had started in Zurich in a horror movie sort of way. While in the shower I suddenly felt blood dripping on my body. With no idea where it came from, I looked up, fully expecting it to ooze from the ceiling. In my still tired state it took me some time to realize that the source was my own nose. Having never had a noosebleed before I slightly panicked with no idea what to do and in the end used a towel to stem the flow. It stopped soon after, but I sure was awake now and scared to blow my nose for the rest of the day.

From then on everything went smoothly. My flight was on time, I easily found my hostel and was even allowed to check in a bit early. Quickly I changed and went off to Union Chapel to finally truly out Shintaido. Got there way too early, but wasn’t the only one and chatted with the other two early birds. It took us a bit to find the right place, but eventually we ended up at the bar. Soon more people came and David, the trainer and Amanda arrived as well. We were about 20 people when we started, most of us with no idea what we were in for. I still don’t really know how to describe it. Breathing, primal screaming or rather sounding out vowels while making faces, sumo wrestler stance, partner exercises. It was nice, it instantly built trust in everyone in the group. Beautiful!

When it was over we took a picture and Amanda told us a few last minute things. C., who had arrived early with me, invited me to go in with her since she had Union Chapel membership. <3 So we stood in line with her friend and they shared stories of other Amanda gig. Across the road, at a lovely cafe, we grabbed a bite to eat. The line got longer and finally the doors opened. The front row was reserved so we got a good spot in second row. Bringing a cushion had been good advice, I needed it. Before the show started, I managed to buy a hoodie and C. got a tea for me, while her friend, whose name escapes me know, spent the waiting time finishing a blanket he had made from Amanda T-Shirts – cool! Their friend J. arrived and got the seat next to me. We all had a nice chat. 🙂

The show started 6:30 on the dot with Amanda walking in from the back, singing ‘In my Mind’. It already contained a story, because at the “and I’ll never lose my wallet” she told us she’d lost it two days ago, but someone found it and she got it back. We learned that otherwise the week had been pretty shitty. Then she had to tune her ukulele too and asked us to talk to a stranger meanwhile. After that she momentarily forgot the lyrics too. For a song about imperfections that was the perfect rendition. 😀

The introduction to the show was letting everyone know to take care of themselves and leave if we needed to. Anyone who had seen it before knew what to expect and everyone else was in for a strange first date. We heard about having “grown up friends” with “real jobs”, who make things like computers or shoes or laws and struggling with imposter syndrome, wondering if anything she could do as an artist really mattered. I can assure you it does Amanda. Music and art keeps so many of us going during dark times, I dare say it is what holds this world together. It certainly has kept me from falling apart.

I’ve written so much about the stories already that I feel I have said almost everything about them. They were more or less the same as the previous nights with a few little changes here and there. I sure enjoyed hearing them again as much as you can enjoy stories about death and abortion. Amanda certainly makes sure there is always some comic relief. I laughed more that night than I did at other times and cried less, but I was just as much into the show. It was wonderful to have seen it evolve into what it is now.

The atmosphere at Union Chapel was truly special. There were so many long time Amanda fans all around me that it was almost a little intimidating – my experience with imposter syndrome right there 8how can i even call myself a “fan” with everyone around me having been here since the Dresden Dolls?) Yet they welcomed me with open arms and I felt like I was home, safe. I love how welcoming this community is. <3

All the songs were spot on that night and the sound was amazing so I could enjoy the music to the fullest. I loved how Subul handled the lights and made use of the venue we had, e.g. lighting up the beautiful church venues. Before ‘Bigger on the inside’ Amanda added a new bit and spoke about the Twitter kerfuffle she had gotten into when speaking about hiring her own media (namely Gabriella and Jack), because the existing media refused to write about the tour. It all got out of hand and so many people were yelling at her and being abusive online. I’ve not even read half of it, but it wasn’t pretty. It’s understandable she felt shitty about it. She also spoke about the show in Braga and its healing powers. 🙂 Then she walked up to the pulpit and played there – it was beautiful.

As always we had the chance to call out “Amanda, I’m too sad” when we needed to and it happened twice if I recall correctly. Hearing the opening chords to ‘Coin-operated Boy’ does offer some relief. The audience was generally a quiet one, i.e. they really listened. There wasn’t much singing along unless we were asked to, but there was a lot of laughter and I am sure a lot of crying too. Once in a while I watched the people around me and saw a woman to my left who was singing along quietly just likeI was. I felt less alone. <3 During ‘Part of your World’ many of us called out the missing words (“Feet!”, “Street”). i think it was here when Amanda looked up and yelled “Subul, get that disco ball going!” or something along those lines. 😀

It was glorious and only when we got to intermission I realized how hard those benched were even with a cushion under my butt. It was nice to get up and stretch a bit. The toilet queues were long, so I used the time standing there to buy and eat some delicious chocolate chip mint ice cream. Yummy! For a moment I thought I would not make it back to my seat in time, but we declared all toilets gender neutral and thus the queue moved surprisingly fast.

Sit back down, take a deep breath and get ready for the second half. I wondered how many people in the room did not know what was coming. in the beginning Amanda had asked who had been there the previous night and who was seeing her for the first time, but i could not see everyone and she did not ask about first show on this tour. i sure was not the only one in the room who had traveled for this. Two or three people in front of us had even left, because in one way or another this was not for them. Everyone else seemed excited to be there and when she asked about her Patreon so many hands were raised.

With ‘Coin-operated Boy’ she eased us into the second half. It only got darker from there and we were not even allowed to bring alcohol into the church. 😉 It was all good though with so many lovely people around me. I could feel the love everywhere in the room and felt so much in awe of Amanda, her music and her powers of bringing this community together. ‘Drowning in the sound’ finally got to me and I cried. It was about time. 😛 That song is my favorite one in the show, at least right now. Can’t get enough of it!

At one point, I don’t know if it was the first or the second half, Amanda introduce her crew, had Alex model some merch (the new hoodie is not only cozy, it is 100% recycled) and we all cheered for the entire crew who work so hard to keep this show running. not to mention they have to watch it every night too. That is no small feat.

Thinking back on the first show I’ve seen on this tour I marveled again at how much it has evolved, how the stories got adapted slowly  and formed to perfection. They are still not the same every night, just the essence stays, but they could not be more perfect, considering how much has to fit into 3.5 hours. It is a wonderful show over all, with just enough comic relief to not make me feel super sad in the end. She sure knows how to bring light into the dark.

‘Let it go’ is the perfect closer to the main set. Unless you’ve seen the show, you would not expect it, especially after all the mentioning of being haunted by ‘Frozen’ and yet it absolutely makes perfect sense. We could all learn to let it go once in a while. It made me want to sing along out loud. 🙂 Everyone jumped up for standing ovations when she was done and cheered as she said goodbye and walked off stage until she came back. Then we settled down again.

Amanda sat at the piano and started with ‘The Ride’. During Shintaido she had told us of her plan to ask all of us to hold hands and I thought she might have forgotten, but she didn’t. When she started the second verse, she asked everyone to take the hands of the people beside her and I think we all did.It was great, warm and cozy. In our row, we held hands until the very end. I felt really connected. We cheered for a long time afterwards.

She came back for the Patreon photo, also inviting everyone who was going to join. There must have been one third of the audience. We all had to squish in carried her on our hands for the pic. Since we had some time left, she stayed for a little q&amp;a. Funniest question was someone asking about her favorite author – “Don’t tell Neil!” 😉 Asked what made her happy today she said that Jason Webley came to the show. I can’t remember more details, but it was nice. 🙂

Finally, I said goodbye to my new acquaintances and left, too wound up to sleep. Eight shows down, one more to go. 🙂

pictures of this concert

Setlist

In my Mind
Runs in the Family
Bigger on the inside
Oasis
Part of your World (Jodi Benson cover)
Machete
A Mother’s Confession

Coin-operated Boy
Drowning in the Sound
Voicemail for Jill
Let it go (Idina Menzel cover)
The Ride

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