This is Grace Jones. And there’s no one like her. The more often I see her in concert (this was my ninth time), the more I’m convinced she’s one of the last artists who is truly unique, truly herself. But Grace Jones is not just an artist, she’s her own genre. She has created a universe in which she is the shining sun around which everything revolves.
When it comes to performance she can measure herself with the brightest of stars. However, her refusal to sell-out, as well as her complicated personality which makes her not the easiest of singers to work with and which drove many a record producer crazy, has led to the fact that she never really hit it big. Her Wednesday night concert at Cologne’s E-Werk struggled to sell out, even though the small-sized show (capacity approximately 2,000) was her first German gig in seven years. Grace remains a hidden gem, only discovered by small group of mainly gay connoisseurs. Good for us who have come across her. But Grace Jones has the show and the capacity to sell out arenas.
And what happened on Wednesday in Cologne? A special show in many ways, mostly because Grace would turn 68 at midnight. A fact Grace was happy to let pass unnoticed. Probably if you’re a shining start in your own universe, turning one year older isn’t the most memorable of facts. Instead, Miss Jones grabbed the occasion to prove that she’s in fact ageless. Dressed in little more than underwear and a corset, she appeared on stage topless covered from head to toe in Keith Haring-inspired body-paint. Quote: “I didn’t put on much today since in Germany everybody is walking around naked!” Her sculptured body was decorated with all kinds of hats and accessories perfectly fitting each song: a giant rain coat for Walking In The Rain, a polka-dot dildo (!) for My Jamaican Guy and of course her famous hula-hoop for Slave To The Rhythm.
The setlist ranged from her disco/bossa nova style La Vie En Rose, to her 80’s New Wave hits such as Love Is The Drug and Nightclubbing, three awesome cuts from her last album Hurricane (This Is, William’s Blood and the title track) as well as one new song, Shenanigans, from her yet to be announced forthcoming album. Grace impressed not only with her music and outfits, but also with her stage antics. For her new song, she was joined on stage by an amazing pole dancer who proved himself dazzlingly flexible while Grace was running around him in an African tribal outfit whacking him with her whip. During Hurricane, a giant fan blew wind at tornado-speed across the stage, Grace in the eye of the storm, screaming: “see me come, here I come!”. And for Pull Up To The Bumper, she hopped on the shoulders of a security guard who escorted her up and down the front row, giving her a chance to greet her hard-core fans (this was also my chance to wish her a happy birthday).
But what ultimately sticks by you when seeing Grace, is the sheer energy and power of the performance. By the end of the show, Grace, paint dripping from her body, confetti stuck to her sweaty skin (quote: “It looks like I’ve been rolling around in the dirt!”) but with a huge smile on her face, thanks her audience. “You’re the best! Danke! Ich liebe euch!” This is Grace. This is a performer who loves what she’s doing, because she’s doing exactly what she wants to be doing. Unique, extravagant and fearless. Stay strong, Miss Jones!