Emeli Sandé – Incense sticks and whistling

Emeli Sandé 03.04.2017

Location: Palladium, Cologne

Ticket price: 47,80€

Transport: train, ICE

Hotel: Hotel Lyskirchen

Favourite song of the artist: Next to me, Shakes

Least favourite song of the artist: Heaven

Favourite lyrics: ‘Oh please, just close the door behind you, dear. Oh don’t you let the cold inside of here. No I don’t wanna talk about it, heard just quite enough about it. Baby, won’t you take me outta here?’ (Tenderly)

Favourite song live: Read all about it, This much is true, Tenderly

Favourite quote of the night:

Why this artist?

This wasn’t my first Emeli Sandé concert. I’ve seen her before in 2013, when she came to Germany for the first time. Back then the venues were very small and tickets were available until ‚Read all about it‘ climbed up in the German charts. Suddenly the tickets were in high demand. That lead to the venue being absolutely overcrowded, with people standing outside the room in the hallways; fire exits were locked to keep people from pushing into the room and they still sold tickets outside… it was a nightmare. I might blog about that concert sometime. However Emeli was amazing back then: Great singer, very humble and shy, and still with a good connection to the audience. So when I heard that she’d come again I knew I needed to see the concert.


The concert was held at the Palladium in Cologne. Because I had never been to Cologne before, at least not long enough to actually explore the city, I decided to add a short vacation to my trip and stay for 4 days.

Hotel Lyskirchen is located close to the city centre and the chocolate museum. It has an indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and a small gym- so all I needed. Underground, tram and buses are close by. The rooms are nice and clean and once I knew how to shut off the vent in the bathroom everything was great. I can’t say anything about breakfast or dinner at the hotel, because I had both elsewhere.

The Palladium is in an industrial area (like so many concert venues) and it took us a moment to find the way from the tram stop, because all around was one large construction side. When we got there, they had so many people out front that you could enter right away (after ticket and security check of course). I really liked the venue, because it’s not big, but big enough not to feel crowded. You can buy drinks and food pretty quickly without long queues.

There’s a second level inside, which frames the room like balconies. I don’t think you see too much if you’re all the way up there in the back of the room. However if you get closer to the stage the view must be great – don’t know about the sound. The front parts on both sides however were blocked, and from down in the room you could see that the musicians and Emeli’s team were sitting up there before and during the concert.


At first we stood close to the FOH, like always, but while the support act Ray BLK was on stage it got so crowded, that we couldn’t see anything anymore. We wandered to the side and more to the front, so we were closer to the stage as well as the exit, where at least a bit of fresh air was circulating.

The support act Ray BLK was good, but didn’t really manage to touch the audience until nearly the end when she started singing a Fugees song. Once she left the stage you could see the technicians on stage changing the set up and their flashlights shone dimly through the white cloth that was hanging down as a curtain. After a mere five minutes the audience started getting restless and whistled, some even booh-ed. I still don’t understand why or how that happened, but all around us people were already very upset about her being so late and how she let the audience wait forever and so on. Sure, at the announced time the support act had entered the stage, but I still didn’t feel like it warranted the negativity all around me.

Emeli started the show with ‚Selah‘, a song that is very slow. The fact that the white sheet stayed up during the first half of the song and all you could see was her silhouette, didn’t help calming the people down. ‚Heaven‘ followed and the upbeat song finally caused the audience to dance along. During ‚Wonder‘, a song that had been one of the highlights of the first concert I had seen, there was something amiss. The first time I had seen it on stage she managed to make the whole audience hold up their hands forming Ws while everybody sang along. This time she didn’t even try.

While the whole concert was great I didn’t feel like there was any connection between her and the audience, not until the encore ‚Read all about it‘. When she sang people barely sang along, in fact where I stood I was the only one who seemed to know the lyrics. When she talked there was barely any reaction, other than from the few die-hard fans right in front of the stage. The whole thing puzzled me and only later, when I read some concert reviews of people who stood further back in the room and they all said that the sound was so horrible the whole time, that they barely understood anything,  that I got an idea of what could have gone wrong.

Finally when the encore of ‚Read all about it‘ came everybody sang along and hearing the huge choir of voices during a concert singing this epic song gave me goosebumps.

Fun facts

Before the concert began, I got worried because I could smell something burning, even though the whole building is a no-smoking area. I looked around and finally found the source of the smell: The light technician had lit an incense stick. And no, he didn’t start meditating right there, at least not that I could tell.

Random thoughts

One of my personal highlights during this concert was the song ‚Tenderly‘. The video in the background had an Africa-theme and Emeli explained before that she had visited her African family for the first time and how the African choir in the end were her relatives. Sadly this was one of the few moments when she really interacted with the audience and got a reaction in return.

Do it again?

Yes. In fact I wanted to go and see her in Bochum a couple of months later, but couldn’t for personal reasons. I will try to get tickets to yet another show and hopefully then the sound will be ok and the audience will get a chance to interact better with her and have a better time.


For the last ten years I have regularly been to concerts at least two or three times a year. At the end of 2016 I decided that 2017 would be my concert year. The experience of witnessing so many great concerts in one year inspired me to start this blog. It also serves as I diary for myself to help and remember the small things that happened during the shows, on and off stage. Please keep in mind that I am not a critic nor do I know a lot about music. This is just my opinion, nothing more and nothing less.