‘Return of the old days’: Denmark hosts stadium concert for 50,000 without Covid curbs

There was certainly euphoria and at times something close to ecstacy as the 50,000 faces in Copenhagen's Parken stadium, swayed, bobbed and bellowed out the choruses in the biggest stadium concert held anywhere in Europe since the first lockdown.

'Return of the old days': Denmark hosts stadium concert for 50,000 without Covid curbs
Niels Brandt, the intense frontman of the Danish post-punk band The Minds of 99, more than rose to the occasion. Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Niels Brandt, the intense frontman of the Danish post-punk band The Mindsof 99 was more than able to rise to the moment.

Time and time again, he seized total control of the crowd, whether tapping out the chords to the hit Som Fluer on an upright piano, or coming out to a small stage in the centre of the seething crowd to play intimate solo guitar.

Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

He would then drive them into a frenzy of soaring emotions as the full force of the band kicked in, with hammering drums, jangling guitar and rave-like synthesisers pushing them on to crescendo after crescendo.

Many in the audience felt the concert marked a new start for the country.

“There’s so much joy, and I’m very happy, we were just talking about how maybe we’re gonna cry, because it’s like the return of the old days,” said Kathrine Krone as she queued with her friend Andrea Bang.

“This concert is kind of a mark of everything, all the restrictions going away, so it’s a celebration, but it’s also very new, it’s something that we’re really not very used to, so there are mixed feelings,” Bang said.

For Dorte Olsen, the concert was a birthday treat for herself and for her 13-year-old son Emil, although her daughter Louise had come along too.

“I’m a nurse, so I think he [Emil] was one of the first 12-year-olds to be vaccinated in Denmark,” she said. “We’re nearly all vaccinated, so if we were to contract Covid-19, the Delta or whatever, we would be okay.”

“It’s really, really great,” Louise added, “and also a little bit scary because, you know, we haven’t been around this many people for a long time.” 

Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

The concert was sold out a year and a half ago and then postponed by the pandemic, so the organisers, Live Nation, said that it was pure chance that The Minds of 99 had ended up holding Denmark’s big reopening concert just a day after the country lifted its last Coronavirus restrictions.

But the band, currently one of the biggest in Denmark even if unknown outside it, was the perfect choice for the task, and Brandt milked the situation to the full.

“Last year, this concert should have marked a peak for us, but that’s not how it turned out,” he told the crowd in a rare quiet moment.

“But as is often the case that when life deals you a shitty hand, it can be the best thing that has ever happened to you. Now we are here a year later, and this is the fucking reopening of Denmark. We have a new record on the way. It feels like we’re heading to new places. A new journey. Thank you very much for being here. It means everything to us and we have fucking missed you.”

The concert was far from Europe’s first big concert, coming as it did, just days after the Manchester post-punk band New Order played to 35,000 in the city’s Heaton Park, but it was the first stadium concert of quite such a scale, certainly without restrictions. 

Ulrik Orum-Petersen, who promoted the concert for the organisers, Live Nation, said that it was “a huge relief” to be back in business.

“This is our core business, what we do. We go to work to produce events like this, and finally, to be able to do that after so long, is just amazing.”

“It’s been very frustrating not to be able to do that for a long time, and especially the uncertainty about when we are going to open up.”

But he said that he believed now there was a huge amount of pent-up demand that he felt sure we were on the cusp of a boom in concert-going.

Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

“There’s a tonne of demand from two years’ almost, locked down. There’s a lot of demand from the fans, that they want to go out and see live shows.”

In between the band’s many encores, Brandt thanked the audience again and again.

“Dear Parken. Thank you so much that so many of you came. We will never forget this.”

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Denmark’s infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

Travellers from China should not need a negative Covid-19 test when arriving in Denmark, the national infectious disease control agency State Serum Institute recommended on Saturday, in an assessment sent to the Ministry of Health.

Denmark's infectious disease agency does not recommend Covid tests for China arrivals

In the assessment by the State Serum Institute (SSI), it was noted that there aren’t expected to be a large number of arrivals coming directly from China and that any tests would have a marginal affect on Danish epidemic control.

However SSI wrote that it was still important to keep an eye on new variants of Covid-19 and suggested that a sample of voluntary-based PCR tests could be introduced for travellers from China.

The assessment was requested by Denmark’s health minister Sophie Løhde, following a recommendation on Wednesday by European Union experts to tighten travel rules.

Infection rates in China are high after it abolished its ‘zero Covid’ policy in late 2022, although no precise numbers are available.

Several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the UK, had already introduced testing requirements, while Sweden on Thursday announced a similar step, as did Germany, with an added announcement on Saturday to discourage non-essential travel from Germany to China.

The United States, Canada, India, South Korea and Taiwan have also put testing rules in place.

Health minister Sophie Løhde also asked SSI to assess testing waste water from aircraft landed from China. SSI responded that there is limited experience in this.

SSI currently analyses samples from shared toilet tanks at four airports twice a week – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Aalborg and Billund. The method would have to be changed in order to detect new Covid-19 variants, which would take up to four weeks to implement, according to the assessment.

Løhde has informed the parliamentary parties about the assessment and has asked the Epidemic Commission for an advisory assessment, she said in a press release. Once this is done, the recommendations will be discussed.