The symphony of his life contains surprisingly few catchy tunes. But that doesn’t matter at all. On this Sunday evening, the highlight of the 30th anniversary of the Classic Open Air on the Gendarmenmarkt, Howard Carpendale is the celebrated star: with lots and lots of heart. Some of the fans have waited two years for the concert because of the pandemic. And he himself has apparently only just recovered from Corona, which is why, he says, the doctor forbade him from dancing that evening.
But the singing works very well. He has filled his band with additional strings and wind instruments to around 25 people, so the emotions come across with full swing and reverberation. And even the summer evening sky plays along, showing pink clouds on the right, as if dabbed on by a painter’s hand, and a delicate gray veil on the left, behind which the fat moon is only temporarily and by no means modestly hiding. Because this sold-out evening proves that it can pay off to think bigger.
Growing up in Durban, South Africa, the son of a politician, Howard Carpendale actually wanted to be an athlete. Instead, he became a hit star in Germany in 1966. And right from the start he developed a special relationship with Berlin.
He says he crossed the inner-German border 57 times with his South African passport in Marienborn. That was the heyday of the ZDF hit parade. Of course he sings the old Beatles number Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, which made him famous at the time.
At the age of 76 he is in the best pop star age. The privilege of the artist stipulates that you only have to end your career with your death, since he has great role models. In 56 years on the stage, as he tells as his own moderator, a repertoire of 700 titles has come together.
He fell in love with one so much that he sings it first at the beginning and then again as an encore: Saturday night, and no one thought of you. Who does not know such a feeling of unwanted loneliness? Hits are projection screens. In each of the minds present they trigger an individual story, memories, feelings. Simple texts are presented here that rhyme appropriately and are easy to remember. Friedrich Schiller, who stands as a memorial in front of the stage, shows not a shred of jealousy at the audience’s certainty of the text.
“Go!”, rhymes with “Understood! And at the end as a possibility at least with “Stay!”. There is smashing along that the pillars wobble. Or was it just the light show?
Many women who are no longer quite young and who obviously know that “marriage is not a pony farm” are fervently bobbing to the beat. Words of wisdom like this are part of the singer’s spoken repertoire.
Of course, “Door to door with Alice” also requires the singing skills of the audience. There is a bit of hit parade notalgia in the form of songs by Peter Maffay (“So bist du”) or Münchner Freiheit (“Everything I want”). Elvis Presley features “Suspicious Minds” and Tina Turner features “Simply the Best”. He brought a particularly romantic story to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.
That’s what his son Wayne wanted for his wedding in Ibiza in 2013. Together with his wife and child, he can hear it live again that evening. In “Your Traces in the Sand” golden spotlights perform a melancholic dance on stage. Later, the spots glitter in blue and purple, as if they wanted to be promoted to diamonds. With a beautiful song about grief “You’re still here”, the strings in particular shine in the approximately two and a half hour program.
The song about the astronaut looking at the world from above is 25 years old. This invites even more thoughtful comments such as that apart from a few villains, no one wants wars, yet there are currently 23 in the world. There is a lot of talk about longing this evening in various contexts. Everyone knows the longing, everyone has it. More and more women rush towards the stage with cell phones raised. Hits can also become classics. Waldbühne veterans may at times feel like they have been sent to the Ponyhof for a cure, exceptionally polite and not very numerous security personnel, socially acceptable prices, wine three euros, a large beer and bratwurst four euros each. That’s the way to live.
At the end of the thanks to the audience: “You have changed my whole life. Love you!” That comes after the obviously eagerly awaited, loudly demanded encore “Ti Amo”. You know each other, you see each other.