When did Bryan Adams make it big?

Planned major concert causes excitement

The major music festivals around the world have been canceled in a row due to the corona pandemic. After shows on the net or drive-in cinema and picnic concerts outdoors, the first organizers are also daring to appear in front of an audience on a small scale - under strict rules to protect against corona infections, of course.

In this phase of cautious entry, concert organizer Marek Lieberberg's plan causes excitement. His agency, Live Nation Germany, has announced the first major concert in Germany with 13,000 spectators in the "Merkur Arena" in Düsseldorf for September 4th. The Canadian singer Bryan Adams, the German singer Sarah Connor and the Irish singer and guitarist Rea Garvey are expected. Ticket sales for the two and a half hour concert will begin on August 11th.

Germany's third largest stadium: the Merkur Arena

With 54,600 seats, the Düsseldorf Arena is the eighth largest stadium in Germany. With 13,000 spectators, the arena would be around 23 percent full. Lieberberg's concept with strict distance and hygiene rules has already been agreed with local authorities because of the corona pandemic.

"Give Live a Chance"

With the event "Give Live a Chance" the organizer Marek Lieberberg wants to set an example. "It is very important that the people get a signal of hope that the industry, the fans, the artists and the many service providers also have reason to hope again," he said in an interview with DW.

Sarah Connor participates in "Give Live a Chance"

In contrast to state-sponsored cultural industries such as opera or theater, the private event industry is only given a fraction of the Corona funding.

Marek Lieberberg is one of the largest concert promoters in Germany. Among other things, he organizes the "Rock am Ring" festival, which attracted around 85,000 spectators in 2019 and this year - like many other events - had to be canceled due to Corona.

Increase in infection with mass accumulation

No sooner had Lieberberg put his plans publicly on the table than headwinds came from the North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of Health. Karl-Josef Laumann doubts the legal basis for the concert and warned that there was a complex infection situation at the end of the travel season. "In this situation, encouraging people from all over Germany to travel across the country to Düsseldorf and come together by the thousands, I consider simply irresponsible," he told the German press agency.

Marek Lieberberg sees his planned concert as a liberation for the event industry

Because the city of Düsseldorf has checked in detail whether the concert can comply with all the regulations of the Corona Protection Ordinance, the Mayor of Düsseldorf Thomas Geisel sees no legal concerns.

For Marek Lieberberg, too, the reactions from state politics are incomprehensible. Lieberberg attributes the disputes not least to conflicts of interest in the election campaign for the upcoming local elections. The respective supporters and opponents of the concept come from different political camps.

Strict security requirements

The many measures taken as part of the hygiene and safety concept include personalized admission in groups in different time windows and a mask requirement also on the seats. "Each space is designed in such a way that it has a social distance of one and a half meters to the front, back and to the side," says Marek Lieberberg. The roof of the stadium remains open.

The "Arena Now!" Concert in Cologne's Lanxess Arena under Corona protective measures in July 2020

Even if fans of pop and rock music are not exactly known for sitting quietly on their chairs during a concert, Lieberberg is firmly convinced of the sense of responsibility of his audience. "We are not dealing with hooligans and not with people who act against each other during an event. Everyone comes with one goal, namely to experience music." So that everything stays peaceful, alcohol should be banned, the musicians' performances sometimes take place unplugged, i.e. without electrical amplification of the instruments.

No meeting in public space is safe

His advance, says Lieberberg, has already attracted attention worldwide, especially in Europe and the USA, where large concerts are currently out of the question in many regions due to the corona situation. "The whole thing made very big waves. It is clear that people long for their culture, they long for concerts."

Crowds on German Baltic Sea beaches like here on Timmendorfer Strand

Of course, no meeting in the public area is risk-free, but that applies to all situations in which people meet, says Lieberberg. He is alluding to mass gatherings, demonstrations in public places and gatherings on popular beaches, where the distance rules could no longer be controlled, especially on the weekends. "We have a far better situation here in Düsseldorf in the stadium than in all the coveted places in this republic at the weekend."

Fear for the industry

Without major events, Lieberberg fears that the industry will continue to exist. He misses a government plan to gradually make major events possible again. Small concerts have already started in Cologne's Lanxess Arena, the upper limit is currently 2400 spectators. For Lieberberg this is not an option, also for financial reasons: "We cannot organize a concert that is designed for 10,000 for 1000. We need certain sales capacities for these events."

Even at the Arena Now! Concert in Cologne, people don't stay in their seats

After all, scientists are already dealing with the topic of major events. A "coronavirus experiment" with singer-songwriter Tim Bendzko is running at the University Clinic in Halle in Saxony-Anhalt. Around 4000 test persons are to be equipped with tracking gadgets, a kind of motion detector, and bottles with fluorescent disinfectant at his concert in the Leipzig Arena on August 22nd as part of the "Restart-19" project in order to determine the possible spread of the coronavirus. The researchers want to develop a mathematical model with which the risk of a corona outbreak can be calculated after major events in halls.

Meanwhile, "Give Live a Chance" is a first attempt for Marek Lieberberg to make a difference, at least in the open air area. On September 3rd, the Berlin Waldbühne wants to start again with open-air concerts under the motto "Back to Live". A maximum of 5,000 of the 22,290 places will be occupied. In percentage terms, this roughly corresponds to the occupancy in the Düsseldorf Merkur Arena.