A Half Century On Stage: Udo Lindenberg Gears Up For ‘Udopium Live 2022’

– German Giant
Udo Lindenberg on stage at Berlin’s Waldbühne in 2017.

German rock legend Udo Lindenberg just announced a new 2022 tour, “Udopium Live 2022.” Since first going on tour with longtime collaborators Panikorchester in 1973, he has hardly spent a year off the road. Think Big has been working with the German superstar since 2012, just in time for his 40th stage anniversary. Lindenberg had just released the most successful MTV Unplugged album in German history, Live aus dem Hotel Atlantic, and Think Big founder, the late Roland “Balou” Temme, had a vision of turning that momentum into a spectacular arena and stadium show. The team realized six tours between then and 2019, only taking a break from the road in 2013 and 2018. The seventh tour had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pollstar spoke with Fabian Schulte-Terboven to look back on one of the most remarkable careers in German music history. 

From some 210,000 visitors at the 2012 “Ich Mach’ Mein Ding” (“I’m doing my own thing”) tour, to 275,000 visitors at the 2016 “Keine Panik!” (“Don’t panic!”) stadium and arena tour, to the canceled “Live 2020” tour comprising 19 arena dates, for which 225,000 tickets had already been sold – Lindenberg and Think Big sold some 1.5 million tickets together. At press time, “Udopium Live 2022” had been on sale for about two weeks and had already shifted more than 180,000 tickets for a total of 21 concerts.

“Udo Lindenberg shows are unique experiences,” said Schulte-Terboven, “a true live spectacle, orchestrated and produced at the highest international stage. Faster, higher, farther. Everything turns and moves, that’s what people want to experience firsthand when they visit arenas and stadiums.”

German daily newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung once wrote that trying to describe all that goes into an Udo Lindenberg show would go far beyond the constraints of any concert review.

The biggest and most elaborate production to date was the 2016 “Keine Panik!” stadium and arena tour, where more than 20 trucks delivered various stage elements, many of which were designed to send Lindenberg and his acrobats flying through open air and indoor venues.

“Every tour is a gigantic and sophisticated spectacle, ‘Udopioum Live’ will seamlessly fall in line,” Schulte-Terboven said, adding that the 2022 tour has been the most challenging so far because “as a result of the lengthy coronavirus crisis, the resources in the events industry aren’t as available as they used to be.”

“Udopium Live 2022” will deploy 19 trucks, seven nightliners, around 70 technical crew and about 60 musicians, artists, acrobats, physios, management, catering and security, not counting the local staff and crew working at the arenas. While Schulte-Terboven didn’t want to reveal any details about the actual show, he confirmed that Lindenberg would live up to his name. Flying stunts, a boxing ring, lunar landers, the biggest LED screen seen on any European tour, as well as A-list names from the world of entertainment that usually come out on stage as special guests, have all been part of the entertainer’s portfolio.

It’s not just the size of the production that creates the Lindenberg appeal, but his stage presence, even at 75 years of age. His voice has held up remarkably, apart from one sold-out concert at Munich’s Olympiahalle in 2019.

“That’s when it happened,” Schulte-Terboven recalled, “his voice gave, he croaked. It later turned out he had infected his vocal cords while running earlier that day. He sounded more like Joe Cocker than Udo Lindenberg, which is why he consoled himself and his fans by saying: ‘Look at it this way, today you’re getting two concerts, one with Joe, one with myself.’ But the miracle happened not even an hour later, after gargling with eggnog and soaking up the applause from the fans, his voice returned in its full beauty. I’ve never witnessed an artist whose singing became clearer the longer he used his vocal cords.”

Lindenberg has won Germany’s most prestigious pop music prize, the Echo, 14 times. He was honored for his lifetime achievement back in 1992. Thirty years later, he obviously still hasn’t completed his life’s work, but the honor can still be considered timely. Lindenberg has always been an outspoken artist fighting for social justice, which included several efforts to bridge the gap between West and East Germany when the country was politically divided throughout the 1980s. In Schulte-Terboven’s opinion, the Echo jury showed great foresight in handing Lindenberg the lifetime achievement prize back in ‘92 – 16 years before he scored his first No. 1 on the German charts, 19 years before he released his record-breaking Unplugged album and 20 years before he began building a reputation for spectacular stadium shows. The phenomenon known as Udo Lindenberg has spawned its own musical, books, a four-hour documentary, art exhibitions (he likes to paint himself), concert cruises, a biopic that hit cinemas in 2020 and more. The Echo was laid to rest after the 2018 edition, and it would have felt quite wrong had this remarkable career never been celebrated in its entirety. s