Stella Donnelly @Molotow (Hamburg): Review

Lennard Boldt April 28, 2019

To be honest, I didn’t expect to have fun this evening after enduring a train ride with the loudest bachelor party ever, screaming the worst kind of German pop songs through the cart. As if that wasn’t enough I stood in the wrong line at Molotow for fifteen minutes and missed almost the whole support gig. Fun! Or not. Not the best way to start the evening at all. A bit grumpy I finally entered Molotow Skybar.

Everyone who watched Stella on stage this evening can confirm that there’s no way to continue staying grumpy throughout that kind of concert, and after she started with my favorite song “Grey” the bad mood was blown away. It was like seeing her falling in love with the sound of the guitar while telling us little stories of her life.

Quite simple ballads without pathos or complex structures. Simple and intimate, perfect for the small venue that the Skybar is, full of people eager to hear stories of her life in Australia. Every song got its own introduction, telling us about touring, her parents, her awkward ex-bosses and breakups.

On the tour poster it was already advertised that she would perform with her whole band. Having lots of acoustic songs with just herself and a guitar, there was no news on stage; instead Donnelly performed from start to the mid of the set all by herself. A keyboarder would appear at times to accompany her.

After the only love song she ever wrote (and probably ever will,) instantly followed by the corresponding breakup song, it was time for those themes all interview with her put focus on: #metoo and old white men.

Personal experiences by herself and friends are behind songs as “Old Man” and “Boys Will Be Boys”. But just for the record: These songs are no bitter tirades against men although some people want to interpret it like that and take it to that low level where they send her death threats. No, they’re just open processes of how toxic masculinity affected her life. And if you’re a man who has a problem with that, the chances are high that you are the problem. At tonight’s show, spreading that kind of message was to preach to the already enlightened. The chance that some of these idiots were in the crowd was zero. But it didn’t reduce the importance of the message in any way.

The already mentioned “Boys Will Be Boys” is the emotional peak of the concert, a song about a friend of her who got raped and faced victim blaming in the end. Goosebumps for the whole song and the loud response of the audience left a big impression with me.

Mid-way through the show it was time for the whole band to join her on stage, and they truly delivered. Constantly switching instruments (I guess everyone of them can play everything), hilariously fun dance choreographies and even more stories on touring life clearly showed that these guys are not just a temporary backup band, they’re a group of friends who couldn’t be happier to tour together. There is no reasonable way to pick any highlights at this part of the show, the good mood of the musicians and the joy of playing just made the whole evening to one single highlight. 

The concert found its end with a cover of an unknown small band which she recommended everyone to listen to. Well, the band is called The Beatles, you might want to check them out too. The audience gave it best to help out and join in.

Luckily Stella already got confirmed for Roskilde Festival 2019 and it’s just a few weeks before we’ll see her on stage again. I will be there. 

Photographer: Katrin Arfmann


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