Conchita Wurst performed her new ‘Love, Respect, Conchita‘ program for the first time on Friday night at the impressive Brucknerhaus in Linz, Austria. The 28-year-old winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 was accompanied throughout the evening by the prestigious Bruckner Orchestra Linz.
I had a front row seat, and was treated to a gorgeous program of eclectic music.
It included songs from Conchita’s self-titled debut album (‘Somebody to Love‘, ‘You Are Unstoppable‘, ‘Out of Body Experience‘ ‘Heroes‘ and ‘Pure‘ etc), as well as classics like ‘Where Do I Begin? (Love Story)‘ previously recorded by Conchita’s idol Shirley Bassey, a German song ‘Morgens Immer Müde‘, and unusual choices ‘Mambo Italiano‘ and ‘Nah Neh Nah‘.
The singer also debuted two new self-written songs — ‘Waters Run Deep‘, one of the nicest songs I think she has sung, and ‘The Truth‘. (And just look at that adorable look on her face after she’s finished singing ‘Waters Run Deep‘ in the video below. And you will see just how nervous she was about singing that song for the first time live).
Another highlight of the evening was Conchita’s cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain‘, a song she sang for the first time publicly a couple of days after the American singer’s death, and one that fits her versatile and incredibly powerful voice perfectly. Her performance of it on Friday night was superb.
The program was long. Conchita’s stamina, however, was astounding, as her voice had just as much power during her last encore song, the usual ‘Rise Like a Phoenix‘, as it did at the beginning. A feat in itself, considering some of the massive songs she decided to sing, and the way she hit the enormous notes in them again and again and again.
In fact, during the performance and at the end of the night, Conchita got so many standing ovations, you honestly hope she left that stage walking on air as, with that performance, she should have done.
And Friday night’s performance goes back to what I have said about her again and again over the almost three years I have been fascinated with her. Because I truly believe Conchita Wurst, to this day, still has no idea deep down just how good she is.
She is, however, spectacular.
The Bruckner Orchestra Linz
I’m reticent to even write this about the Bruckner Orchestra Linz because, as orchestras go, they are exceptional. They are also just back from several well-received concerts in the United States, where they gave critically acclaimed performances of some of Philip Glass‘ work, including the world premier of his Symphony No. 11 at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
On Friday night, they accompanied Conchita Wurst throughout her entire ‘Love, Respect, Conchita‘ program and were, predictably, exceptionally good.
Sadly, however, the sound engineers seemed to have problems getting the music levels between the singer and the orchestra correct, with Conchita’s massive vocals almost obscured by the orchestra during some of the most explosive parts of her songs throughout her entire performance. A task that is quite difficult to achieve, I would think, as her voice is enormous.
For me it was even worse, as I had a front row seat on the right hand side of the stage, right where the speakers feed the music into the audience. To say I had problems hearing Conchita’s vocals through a large part of the evening would be an understatement. If her voice had been less powerful, it would have been impossible.
Several people close by me and during the intermission also made the same observation, as did this writer with Volksblatt.
Personally, I would love to see Conchita sing with the Bruckner Orchestra again, as they provided a gorgeous accompaniment and seemed to be enjoying themselves enormously (especially during that fabulous ‘Purple Rain‘ musical interlude they played).
Just next time, I would prefer it if they had more of a handle on their sound engineering department which, on Friday night, fell short of what I am sure it is quite capable of.
Conchita Wurst and Stage Presence
Now, anyone who has read the over 500 articles I have written about Conchita will know I have periodic issues with Conchita’s stage presence as, in my opinion, she should always be far more self-confident on stage than she ever is.
On Friday night, that lack of self-confidence came to the forefront again somewhat, and resulted in a stage presence that meant she spent most of the evening clinging to a microphone stand on one tiny portion of the stage, when there was adequate room for her to move around quite a bit more, and let far more of the audience get a good look at her.
As I was on the front row at the right hand side of the circular stage, I had expected to be able to get at least a few close up looks at her as the evening progressed. Instead, I was treated to a view that was just the same as my being seated 14 rows back in the center. A distinct waste of my money, and a huge disappointment.
And this is what I have to say about this to Conchita herself.
Because, Conchita, every time I watch a performance of you trapped like a deer in the headlights on center stage and frozen in place, I feel like standing up and screaming “For f*ck’s sake, you are better than 95 percent of the singers out there today. Would you please, please, please believe it?’
Especially as that voice that comes out of her mouth is so goddamn breathtaking, if you didn’t know where to look for those little signs she gives off, you would presume she is the most self-confident diva on the planet.
This hesitancy that she still sometimes displays about herself and her abilities colors much of what she does. It makes her give interviews where she talks about others being ‘real singers’ compared to herself, (please stop putting yourself down, love, because if you’re not a ‘real singer’ then I’m not a ‘real girl’).
And it causes her to put up with sound engineers that are not doing their jobs because she always wants to be ‘polite’ — (let’s go back to that performance at that terribly-run ORF national selection for a moment where the incompetent sound engineers in that show would have been berated to an inch of their lives by a Beyonce or a Bassey when those divas got off stage).
It also makes her sing with bands that are too loud, and play music that is more to the forefront than she is. (No offence, love, but I pay good money to hear you, and not to hear the backing band that should be doing just that — backing you).
And, sure, I understand exactly where this comes from.
From 20-years of being treated as ‘lesser than’ by fools who will never be worth as much as she is.
Because, when you go through as much abuse as she has done, I’m sure ‘polite’ seems like the best way to handle every situation. Regardless of how much you should stand up for yourself.
Because ‘polite’ tends not to invite renewed abuse, or to threaten the ‘somewhat respect’ this lovely 28-year-old singer has been given in Austria since she won Eurovision in 2014.
For me, though, I think there are certain circumstances when polite needs to go out the window, and instead should turn, not to ‘rude’, but to ‘firm’.
Especially when it is stopping an artist from growing to their full potential. Including having a huge stage presence she is more than capable of.
Conchita Wurst and the Future
But as much as I was disappointed with Conchita’s inability to feel completely free on stage and, as a result, my inability to be able to see her properly (and let me add, she is much improved from just after she won Eurovision), one thing I did come away with after her performance with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz on Friday night was this.
Not that I have ever had any doubt that Conchita Wurst was going to be one of the world’s biggest international superstars some day, win over millions of new adoring fans, and get her Grammy, her performance on Friday night just added another rung to that ever-higher ladder.
Because she was absolutely spectacular in every sense of the word.
A stunning singer with a phenomenal voice, a charming and funny host (the audience roared with laughter through much of her many monologues), one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen (inside and out, of course), and a true superstar.
Conchita, you should be so proud. Because, in my several decades of attending and reviewing concerts all over the world, your concert with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz is one of the best I have seen.
Upcoming Conchita with Live Orchestra Concerts — Get Tickets Here
If you would like to see Conchita perform live with an orchestra, and I highly recommend you do, she has three more concerts coming up in November.
I'm a former radio DJ, an ex non-profit Director of Development, and a left-wing human rights advocate with a 20 year background in gay rights and HIV/AIDS rights advocacy. I'm also an avid video game player. Minecraft is my obsession.