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Janis Joplin apparently didn’t care much for European audiences. “I’ve been working. We did Europe, I went to Europe, I played over there (for) about a month. Scared ’em to death I think,” She boldly proclaimed. When asked if she had fun, Joplin responded with, “No, I had a terrible time”.
She thought the problem was that she was tapping into some primordial trance, while those watching on were clutching their pearls. Detailing further, Joplin explained: “Nobody really gets loose, and nobody rocks over there. They’re all so cerebral, they’re really cerebral, do you know what I mean?”. She was up their sloshing Southern Comfort, and they were looking on wondering where she placed in the canon of art. 
Needless to say, a lot of this fear about analysis over appreciation was merely in Joplin’s culture confused eyes. That much is readily apparent in this footage from her first show in Germany. Joplin is a star who could rattle the rafters of an empty airline hangar without a microphone in sight. Her power was unfounded. She was a one-woman riot that even an Oxbridge professor would struggle to intellectualise. 
Flashing through a thunderous 33-minute set, she journeys through classic tunes like ‘Raise Your Hand’ and ‘Summertime’ with snippets of interview in between, before the final closing blitzkrieg of ‘Take Another Piece of My Heart’ before the awestruck Frankfurt audience. If they seem stand-off-ish Joplin, then that is merely because their minds have been walloped.
It’s a performance that also serves as time capsule. After all, Joplin is as much of an icon of the 1960s summer of love era as the Michelin Man is of tires. Tousled locks, tie-dye garments and a freewheeling attitude were all part of her oeuvre, but the thing that made David Crosby crown her the queen of rock is a voice that forever threatened to take sputnik out of orbit and end the space race in an explosion of earthly peace.
Her three-octave range might not be overly remarkable but her strength across it was herculean. And with that voice, she extolled a message of blooming flower power with a few prickly thorns in the bunch.
In fact, one of her shows blossomed so riotously that the brave police officers present – fearing a knees-up en masse and the chaotic smiling hysteria that comes with it – did all they could to restore banal order. They clambered onto the stage and kindly asked the famed rock ‘n’ roll insouciant performer whether she would perhaps reverse her intent and try to assist them in subduing the happy crowd into a more manageable state of ennui. In short, her response was “fuck off”.
That’s Joplin for you! Her tragically short life may have been a complex one, but it is her daring ways, performative bravura, upbeat attitude and rafter rattling voice that sustain in the memory to this day. The performance below is glowing testimony to that. 
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