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Guns N' Roses, Pearl Jam, Die Toten Hosen: How I experienced my »Summer of Rock« 2022

Pearl Jam in der Berliner Waldbühne am 21. Juni Pearl Jam in der Berliner Waldbühne am 21. Juni

Pearl Jam in the Berlin Waldbühne on 21.June Photo: Bastian Midasch / DER SPIEGEL

Nobody had warned me on December 7th 2019 Back then, on a cold winter’s day in Hamburg, I was one of them lucky few who were able to bid for two tickets for the Pearl Jam concert in the Berlin Waldbühne r the appearance of the rock stars for the 23. June 2020. 247 days should I be patient? No problem. I thought.

Out of 201 days should 927 will. A virus called Corona, which was still new at the time, spoiled my anticipation. And: It wasn’t just the grunge legends from Seattle that were on my list back then, I also wanted to see Kiss on their farewell tour. Likewise Guns N’ Roses, Die Toten Hosen and Iron Maiden. Everything has been postponed. Now, in summer 2000, Corona is still an issue. And yet all appointments will be made up for.

While Organizers and bookers complain that far too few people come to smaller or medium-sized concerts, and that the major events are often sold out. But can we still do that? Live music before up to 58.000 viewers ? And: In view of the current infection numbers, isn’t the fear of infection still clouding the mood?

By the way, my last concert was also half an eternity ago: Before 846 days Liam Gallagher played in the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle. The former Oasis singer stopped the concert after just five songs because of his weakening voice. It could only get better.

Kiss, 13. June – Barclaycard Arena Hamburg

As a long-time fan of the band, I knew what to expect: An impressive fire show, Gene Simmons spitting blood and a set list that will not be shaken

Next year the band will celebrate their 50-year founding anniversary. The sold-out concert fell in the middle of the umpteenth corona wave, so despite triple vaccination and having survived a corona infection, it felt strange when I arrived. Thousands of people – children, teenagers, parents, grandparents – crowded inside, just as many in the tiers, long queues at the beer stands.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from Kiss in a duet

Photo: Bastian Midasch / DER SPIEGEL

In the end I gave up all resistance. Before the concert started, I took off my mask. The fact that I had to wait so long for the performance certainly played a role: I just wanted to enjoy it.

Pearl Jam,

. June – Waldbühne Berlin

Only eight days later Pearl Jam performed in Berlin. I received numerous corona warnings after Kiss. But now were 22 Degree, the sky is almost cloudless – who would want to let a virus spoil their mood in these conditions? At the latest at the drinks stand, where everyone was jostling for the cool beer, I no longer thought about distance rules – and as singer Eddie Vedder punctually at 20 o’clock entered the stage, there was no stopping him.

The Berlin Waldbühne on the longest day of the year Photo: Bastian Midasch / DER SPIEGEL

The concert has been postponed twice before. Even now there were doubts in advance. Not just because of Corona: There had been rumors that Vedder was struggling with his voice. Luckily they didn’t confirm themselves, instead the band played a great show, albeit without an encore. Noise protection. That my concern about another cancellation was justified , only became apparent a few weeks later. During the European tour, Vedder’s voice apparently suffered mainly from the great heat in Europe. In mid-July, the band canceled their performances in Vienna and Prague at short notice


At least the fans in Amsterdam were lucky: Vedder ignored his doctor’s advice and ended the European tour as planned in the Dutch capital. “I’m not going to fucking leave this part of the world without playing another show,” the frontman said. And I won’t leave without seeing another show.

Voice problems? Axl Rose – watch out, puns – can also sing a little song about that. His voice has been weak for years. There was great concern that Guns N’ Roses could cancel the concert again because of this. Especially since the band canceled a gig in Glasgow three days before their performance in Munich’s Olympic Stadium – out of consideration for Rose.

Guns N' Roses im fast ausverkauften Münchner Olympiastadion Guns N' Roses im fast ausverkauften Münchner Olympiastadion
Guns N’ Roses in the almost sold out Munich Olympic Stadium

Photo: Bastian Midasch / DER SPIEGEL

While I was before the first two concerts rather was afraid of two stripes on the self est that I did before every performance, I now watched Twitter, Instagram and Facebook most intently. Bands usually announce their cancellations there first. Only one day before the performance, Axl Rose himself gave the all-clear

. “See u in Munich!!” he said at the end of his statement. Everything I wanted to hear. My seven-hour train ride to the Bavarian capital should have been worth it, also musically: The eternally young Slash, meanwhile 57 years old, brilliant on the guitar as ever. And Axl’s voice? To put it diplomatically: She stopped.

Die Toten Hosen, 13. July – Volkspark Hamburg

In the meantime, a certain routine had set in, I no longer felt queasy when partying despite Corona. The area in front of the Hamburger Volksparkstadion is relatively small, more than 20. People were bustling about there.

Die Toten Hosen in front of the Hamburger Volksparkstadion Photo: Bastian Midasch / DER SPIEGEL

Keep distance? Impossible. »Hosen« concerts are huge parties, other problems are suppressed, at least temporarily. I’ve been able to do that quite well in the meantime, mainly because the show took me along as a fan as usual: 35 Songs, three encores and one classic after the other – the five demonstrated on their »Everything out of love« tour once again that you also after 38 years of band history are far from the end.

While many fans over fighting against their hoarseness during the performance, at least Campino’s voice seemed robust. Everything as before. And Corona? Feels like it doesn’t matter.

Iron Maiden, 20. July – Bürgerweide Bremen

Despite still high incidences, Corona was no longer a major issue, neither in society nor among concert-goers. I quickly got used to large crowds. Instead, another crisis hit us: A heat wave had captured Germany, in nearby Hamburg were on 20. July for the first time since weather records began Die Berliner Waldbühne am längsten Tag des Jahres degrees measured. And in Bremen, too, it was unbearably hot. Just a few days earlier, the Brits had to cancel a gig in Bologna, Italy, at the last minute due to the weather.


But luck was on my side, I convince myself that this was the reward for my two-year involuntary concert abstinence. Versus 20 o’clock, the sun slowly disappeared behind the stage, the temperature was 23 Degree. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the sky and the band presented themselves in top form with »Fear of the Dark« or »The Trooper«. 36.000 Spectators sang along. I almost got a little nostalgic. Because of the music, but also because of the feeling of celebrating with other fans.

I would do it again. And in a way I do. Next year Elton John,

, and Bruce Springsteen, 68, in Hamburg. If Corona and their voices allow you, I will be there.

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