Return to the forest stage: The Rolling Stones are simply immortal

Return to the forest stage
The Rolling Stones are simply immortal

The Rolling Stones end their European tour with a concert in the Berlin Waldbühne. It’s a memorable event, not only because of the location where the show takes place. The fans hug each other when the Rock’n’Roll veterans perform.

It’s amazing that a few bluesy guitar riffs could once be considered the embodiment of evil. When the Rolling Stones performed a now-legendary concert at Berlin’s Waldbühne in 1965, which ended with fans smashing benches, overturning lanterns and demolishing commuter trains, their reputation as the “toughest band in the world” was perfect. Dozens of people were injured and arrested, and hundreds of thousands of people were damaged. The forest stage was not usable for years.

57 years later, the Stones are back on stage in West Berlin (after two more concerts in 1982 and 2014). They no longer seem like the embodiment of some evil force. But they are still celebrated wildly. The concert in the Waldbühne is the conclusion of their European tour to mark their 60th anniversary. And a lesson in what defines the most famous rock band in the world to this day.

“Oh, Berlin”

If you want to highlight one of Mick Jagger’s strengths, it’s his stage presence. The 79-year-old no longer seems as if the devil himself would shake his body. But he still paces back and forth on stage with great vitality, wiggling his outstretched arms, circling his hips, tapping his feet – and always addressing his word to the audience. “Tach, Berliner,” he calls after the opener “Street Fighting Man” in German. “How are you?”

He later jokes about the long construction period for Berlin Airport BER and says: “Glad to see the airport is finally finished”. From there you drove off with the 9-euro ticket to eat a currywurst and drink the peppermint liqueur “Berliner Luft”. “After five schnapps my German was perfect.”

The Waldbühne was of course completely sold out at the concert, which also commemorated the late Charlie Watts.

(Photo: IMAGO/Carsten Thesing)

“It’s good to be back in Berlin,” says guitarist Keith Richards, “because you never know what’s going to happen.” He is probably alluding to the old Waldbühne performance. What the Stones probably didn’t master back then (according to rumors, they are said to have disappeared listlessly after a 20-minute set), they have now perfected. Entertainment, outfit changes and other spectacles as well as individual interaction with the fans depending on the concert venue – everything that makes a big pop concert an incomparable event to this day.

Remembering Charlie Watts

Of course, the music is also incomparable. The formula is simple: Keith Richards hits his concise riffs, Ron Wood decorates the songs with guitar melodies. Mick Jagger hovers above everything with his distinctive vocals, meanwhile a bit rougher and growling, but still impressively voluminous. The Stones still present their songs, which have been played a thousand times, with devotion, the songs appear energetic, powerful. On this tour it was, among others: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, “Paint It Black”, “Tumbling Dice”, “Out of Time” or “Honky Tonk Woman”.

Only longtime drummer Charlie Watts, who passed away last year, is no longer there. At the beginning, video sequences of him are shown. “We dedicate this show to Charlie,” says Jagger in German.

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

rebellion against time

Keyword young: The Stones were the rebels against the establishment in 1965, the evil version of the Beatles. Many people could identify with this in the 1960s. It’s different today.

A younger music listener from the audience says before the concert that she is also here because it is an incredible achievement when men well over 70 can still put on a show like this. Watching these happy, energetic magicians on stage, one can only agree.

And remember: The Stones are still rebelling today – but no longer against society, but against the times. Jagger and Co. appear as if they have been removed from the mortal realm. How else could you move like that at 79? And that, in the end, might be the dream projected onto the Rolling Stones in 2022: that rock music will immortalize.

(This article was first published on Thursday, August 04, 2022.)

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