Mr Weger, what are these pictures that we’re now seeing for the first time?
The photos were taken during the Rolling Stones Tattoo You tour, specifically at the concert in Rotterdam on June 3, 1982, and three days later in Hanover. The concert in Hanover was the first one ever at the former Niedersachsen Stadium. The local promoter offered certain photographers the opportunity to take pictures at the beginning of the European tour in Rotterdam, for an advance report.
What is special about these photos?
There were over 70 accredited photographers in Rotterdam. The way it normally happens is that the accredited photographers are allowed to take pictures during three numbers. Because of the large number of photographers in Rotterdam, there were three groups for three songs each. At such large events, the procedure is always the same: the photographers are allowed into the pit before the stage, one group at a time, and have to leave again after the three numbers. The room to move about in is limited; at the most you can only move a metre to the left or right. In addition, it’s a very steep angle looking up to the stage. The possibilities for us photographers are very limited.
Even so, you were able to get pictures up close. How did you manage that?
I had been allocated to the third group. It was completely random. The press person told me that I had half an hour before my group would be called. All the photographers went to the bleachers. To tell the truth, I was rather nervous and certainly didn’t want to miss my chance, so I hesitated. Suddenly, I found myself all alone at the entrance to the backstage area. At that moment the concert began with Under My Thumb. I just wanted to take a look at the stage to get an impression of it. The security back then was not so tight, and no one stopped me when I simply walked in with all my equipment…
…and landed on the stage?
Nearly. The entrance to the backstage area was in the middle of the stadium. When I was about ten metres from the stage extension, Mick Jagger came walking along it. He sang and posed – and I photographed. It was years later that I realised that he had probably done that two-minute show only for me, for the photographer.
What camera equipment did you have with you at the time?
I photographed the concert with a Leica R3 and an R4, using Ilford SW HP5, 400 ASA film. Back then, most colleagues were photographing with Nikons. With Leica, I was an exception.
You continue to work as a concert photographer today. What has changed in your work since then?
I find that the biggest difference between the analogue press photography of the seventies and eighties and digital photography today lies in the surprise element. Back then you took your film to the laboratory and only saw what you actually had once you got to look at the contact sheets. The moment of changing the film was also decisive. Do I change after 30 pictures or do I take the risk and use the film till the end – possibly missing a decisive moment? In general I can say that conditions for us photographers at concerts have become worse. In advance we have to sign tough contracts with the artist’s management. The positions from which we are allowed to take pictures are sometimes extremely unfavourable. It’s virtually impossible to still get really special pictures.
The exhibition will be held from September 11 to 26, 2017, in the LFI gallery space at Springeltwiete 4, 20095 Hamburg. Mondays to Fridays, 10am to 6pm. Free entry.
Opening on Friday, September 8, 7pm.