Rita Ora or: where the heck is the band?!

Rita Ora, 26. 05. 2018

Location: Große Freiheit 36, Hamburg

Price: 43,80 Euro

Transport: ICE 

Hotel: Reichshof Curio Hilton

Favourite song of the artist: Your song

Least favourite song of the artist: Anywhere

Favourite lyrics: I’m standing still with nothing in my way. Let me go so I can find myself again.

Favourite song live: Girls

Why this artist?

I love her acoustic versions of ‘Your song’ and ‘Coming home’ as well as videos of her live gigs, so I bought tickets to her concert as soon as they were available.


Große Freiheit is an old concert location smack down in the middle of the Große Freiheit/ Reeperbahn, which is basically a red light district with table dance bars and brothels. The venue itself is very rustic and has lots of atmosphere. The surroundings however are a bit of an acquired taste – what I apparently haven’t done yet.


The show started with the support act Kara Marni. I really liked the songs and the singer. The sound however was a mess. There was no live band and the music sounded like midi tracks back in the days. The intensity of the lows and highs varied from song to song. Sometimes the bass put so much Pressure on you that you nearly got a headache. Then it was gone completely from the next song, only to be replaced by a high pitched squeaking sound. I somewhat doubt that the technician was responsible, because he seemed just as unnerved by to as we were.

Next came the change over with the sound check. I distinctly remember hearing the soundcheck of the drum set. The show apparently started a bit later than planned, because of (I quote the talk back) “It’s the f*cking mouth mic!”

The show started with my favourite ‘Your song’, but to my biggest surprise there was no band. There was a huge screen, several dancers and Rita herself, but no band.

So we started wondering if I had imagined the drum soundcheck.

Rita herself was good, but at times it was weird as she sang over a full playback, that kept playing in the background the whole time. So whenever she addressed the audience or went ‘off script’ you could still hear her singing, just not as loudly.

Halfway through the show she finally solved the band riddle, when she mentioned that the whole band was standing behind the huge screen.

Now, while I love myself some videos and screens during a show, I am still flabbergast that the production would put the whole band behind the screen. It must suck for the band, because they can’t see the audience and are stuck in the dark. It must suck equally for Rita because there is zero spontaneity and communication when you can’t see each other on stage. And to be honest, it sucked for me as a member of the audience, because I like seeing the band. I like seeing the interaction. I like picking up on it when there is something going on and you can see it on the band members’ faces.

The band behind the screen put a huge damper on the concert experience for me and it kind of felt like she played without a band.

Maybe the show was planned with bigger stages in mind, which would explain the tech-heavy set up and tricks?

During the song ‘girls’ she had a camera girl on stage who filmed her the whole time. Later during the song she invited some kids and fans up on stage to dance with her and take some pictures. It seemed that a lot was lost in translation since the younger kids had no idea what she wanted from them and kept walking off and on stage, at times missing the photos. The song at the time was brand new and Rita made a point of dancing with a rainbow flag during the song. There was some controversy because of the lyrics and because some bisexual/lesbian women felt offended by it. Personally I don’t think the whole red wine bit in the lyrics was necessary and I agree that it sounds more like a ‘I made out with a chick while being drunk in a bar’ kind of scenario, but that aside I think it’s not my place to judge how she realised she was 50:50. I think it takes a lot to voice it openly, especially considering she’s only been seen with guys as far as I know. So there seems no pressure to out herself. I don’t really think it’s something you can use to make yourself hip, especially because it might backfire (I think Jessie J might not talk about that topic again in public) and also she is successful without it.

As one of the last songs she played ‘Coming home’, but sadly not the acoustic version. I think she was miming at some point during the song, but I might be wrong. She certainly wouldn’t need to because she can sing so well.

The show was over after a bit more than an hour and I felt torn. On one hand I really liked Rita, her voice and her songs and on the other hand I would have liked a concert more where the voice and band was more the focus of the production than videos and appearance.

Fun facts

It’s kind of funny when you can see the tech guys setting up a new set for the encore. The audience stops shouting and just waits, knowing there will be more. Why else would stairs be set up on stage?

Random thoughts

Sometimes less is more, I guess. Less videos, less cameras, less screens, less dancers and more band and music would have worked wonders in my opinion.

Do it again?

Yes, but either in a very small setting with just Rita, her band and nothing else. Or in an arena like setting with all the tricks and shebang. This middle/ half-way thing didn’t really work.


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.