Concert: Dream of Eternal Life: Rolling Stones in Berlin

A Dream of Eternal Life: The Rolling Stones in Berlin

The Rockery Rolling Stones have warmed up Berlin. picture

© Soeren Stache / dpa

In 1965 they played their (legendary) concert for the first time in Berlin’s Waldbühne, now the Rolling Stones are back. What has changed in 57 years of pop music history?

It’s amazing that a few blues guitar riffs could once be considered the embodiment of evil.

When the Rolling Stones played their legendary concert in Berlin’s Waldbühne in 1965, which ended with smashing benches, overturning street lamps and destroying commuter trains, their reputation as “the toughest band in the world” was excellent. Dozens of people were injured and arrested, and hundreds of thousands of people were damaged. The Waldbühne was unusable for years, 57 years later the Stones return to the stage in West Berlin (after two more concerts in 1982 and 2014). They no longer seem to be the embodiment of some evil force. But they are still wildly celebrated. The concert in Waldbühne marks the end of their 60th anniversary European tour. And a lesson in what still defines the most famous rock band in the world.

“Tach, Berliner” – Lesson of good entertainment If you would like to emphasize one of Mick Jagger’s strengths, it is his stage presence. The 79-year-old no longer seems like the devil himself is shaking his body. But he still walks back and forth across the stage with great vitality, waving his outstretched arms, circling his hips, stamping his feet – and always delivering his word to the audience. “Tach, Berliner,” he calls after the opener of “Street Fighting Man” in German. “How are you?”

A BER joke from a rock legend

Later, he jokes about the long construction period of Berlin’s BER airport and says, “I’m glad the airport is finally completed.” From there you departed with a 9 euro ticket to eat currywurst and drink the Berliner Luft mint liqueur. “After five schnapps my German was perfect.”

“It’s good to be back in Berlin,” says guitarist Keith Richards, “because you never know what’s going to happen.” Probably alludes to an old Waldbühne play. What the Stones probably hadn’t mastered back then (according to the stories, they reportedly faded apathetic after a 20-minute set), they’ve now refined. Entertainment, changing clothes and other performances as well as individual interaction with fans depending on the concert venue – all that makes the great pop concert an incomparable event to this day. A sound that is unique to this day

Of course, the music is also incomparable. The formula is simple: Keith Richards hits his terse riffs, Ron Wood decorates the songs with guitar melodies. Mick Jagger soars above all with his signature vocal, meanwhile a bit sharper and more growling, but still impressively voluminous. The Stones still showcase their songs that have been played thousands of times, with dedication, the songs seem energetic, strong. On this tour, they included: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, “Paint It Black”, “Tumbling Dice”, “Out of Time” and “Honky Tonk Woman”.

Only longtime drummer Charlie Watts (1941-2021) is gone, his video sequences are shown at the beginning. “We’re dedicating this program to Charlie,” says Jagger in German.

The audience on the forest stage, which is mostly equipped with seats, stands up from the first second, cheers and hugs each other. Today, this music holds the memories of several generations. The unparalleled number of timeless hits that the Stones have accumulated in their history inspires – it seems when looking at the audience – young people over and over again.

Rock music that makes you immortal

Keyword young: The Stones were rebels against the establishment in 1965, the wrong version of the Beatles. Many people could identify with it in the 1960s. Today is different.

The younger audience member says before the concert that she is here too, because it is an amazing achievement when men in their seventies can still put on such a show. Watching these happy, energetic magicians on stage, one can only agree.

And remember: Stones still rebel today – not against society anymore, but against time. Jagger and Co. look like they’ve been removed from the mortal world. How else could you move like this at 79? And this is perhaps the dream coming to the Rolling Stones in 2022: for rock music to make people immortal.


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