′99 Luftballons′ icon Nena launches first-ever US tour | Music | DW | 29.09.2016

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'99 Luftballons' icon Nena launches first-ever US tour

It's about time. Pop queen Nena's "99 Luftballons" was the rare German-language song to climb the US charts, but she's never toured the country. That is, until now.

Of course "99 Luftballons" will be part of the program when Nena kicks off her three-day mini tour of the US in San Francisco on Friday.

Apart from the number that's bound to turn into a sing-along, Nena will be bringing along highlights from the 16 studio albums she's recorded over the course of the past three decades, since those red balloons launched her to global fame in 1983.

After performing at San Francisco's Regency Ballroom on Friday and The Regent Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, she'll take German Unity Day off - October 3 marks the 26th anniversary of German reunification. On October 4, Nena wraps up her US tour leg at the PlayStation Theater in New York City before returning to Europe for a dozen shows in Germany, Holland and Belgium. 

In the early 80s, young Nena was making music in a time when Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna were commanding attention. She was part of the German New Wave that also washed Peter Schilling ("Major Tom") and Falco ("Rock Me Amadeus") across the ocean.

But, according to "Slate," her innocent-sounding synth-backed tune was also a "screaming protest anthem about mutually assured destruction that you could use as a soundtrack for dancing your ass off. (Or, given that these are Germans we're talking about, jumping up and down aggressively.)"

A protest, it seemed, that didn't only ring true in a country divided by the Iron Curtain, but also in Cold War-weary West.

"Ninety-nine years of war left no place victors / There are no longer any ministers of war / and also no jet fighters," she sings in the final stanza.

Now 56, Nena is still active on stage, in the studio and on camera. She released her latest album, "Oldschool" last year and was a guest on the German music television show "Sing mein Song."

Already a grandmother, Nena has four children and has been regularly performing with her daughter Larissa on backup vocals. But with a packed tour schedule and US debut this fall, it appears that Nena isn't ready to pass off the baton quite yet.