Amanda Palmer in Cologne
Cologne was grey, wet and mostly closed (due to a public holiday); in other words: in desperate need of some Amanda Palmer vibes.
After my first Amanda Palmer concert in Paris back in July, I had decided that I wanted to see her again. Since she didn't come anywhere near Stuttgart on this tour, I decided on going to Cologne, which is at least easy to reach from here (2 hours on the train).
The Gloria Theatre is a tad smaller than La Cigale in Paris and was sold out for weeks already. When we were let in, music was already playing inside. Amanda's tour companions, brass band Perhaps Contraption, had set up opposite the stage and played while the audience was still coming in and began filling the room. When they were finished, Amanda appeared and directed our attention towards the stage, where Die Roten Punkte were now taking over. Astrid and Otto entertained the audience with their mix of punk rock and brother/sister hecklings. For their last song, about a little robot, Amanda and Chad joined them on stage for some dance moves, which brought back the 80s. That the theatre decided to play "Tainted Love" during the brief pause that followed seemed only logical.
After the pause, opening act no. 3 was Jherek Bischoff, showing off his skills to use a bass, an ukulele and a loop recorder to either make some noise or play a tune composed for a four-piece on his own. For his last song, Perhaps Contraption joined him on stage.
Another pause and then it was time for Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. She started, full power ahead, with "Do it with a Rock Star". There was a brief tug of war with someone's tie - he didn't want to come up on the stage so she gave in and dove right into the audience; the first of several such close contacts with her fans.
The next couple of songs were a blur (Nirvana was in there somewhere). But who cares about the exact schedule of songs and events. Everybody was dancing, singing along and generally having a great time.
Lou Reed got a tribute. The band played "Walk on the Wild Side", with the audience contributing the du-di-du's. I also remember a rather sinister rendition of "Missed Me".
At one point we learned that Amanda actually did an internship at a theatre in Cologne, years ago, which explains why she's still somewhat fluent in German. Announcing that she'd thought about playing a song by Bertold Brecht but decided to play a "relatively unknown" German song with an important political message instead, she launched into "Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich?" - and you can guess the rest of what followed.
After playing one sad song (The Bed Song, IIRC), she actually let the audience vote whether they wanted to be even sadder or rather hear a happy tune. The vote was for sad, so we got "Bigger on the Inside", complete with the song's background story. On several occasions during the song, I thought she would actually start to cry; talk about bearing your feelings to your audience.
Perhaps Contraption made another appearance, for "Leeds United", amongst others. With 9 of them plus Amanda and band, there was hardly any space left on the stage, but Astrid and Otto of Die Roten Punkte joined them nonetheless.
As we were streaming out of the room Perhaps Contraption were already playing again in the hallway. The little stall selling AFP merchandise was rather crowded. I bought a Bananenhaus t-shirt from Die Roten Punkte and 2 CDs from Perhaps Contraction. A separate line was set up for Amanda, so I took my chance to say thanks and get my Kickstarter booklet signed, before heading back to the hotel.
What can I say? Great show. Comparing it to Paris would be unfair - that show was special, for several reasons. This one was different, for several other reasons. It still showed what I already learned at my first Amanda Palmer show: She's really, really dedicated to her fans in a way that's hard to explain to "outsiders". Go see her, while you still can (the shows in Germany are already sold out, and she's announced that she's going to take a break from touring after this tour). Go, go, go!
To give you an impression, have a look at the set of photos I posted on Flickr.