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Hicks: Scorpions review

By Tony Hicks
Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 10:03 am in Uncategorized.

Went to the Scorpions in Concord last night and, while it wasn’t the greatest show, I have to say I was impressed by how many people came out. I haven’t seen a buzz like this over an old arena rock band from my youth since Van Halen reunited with Dave. All week I was hearing from people, asking if I was going. I didn’t initially plan to, but by Thursday I started feeling like, if I didn’t go, I’d be missing something. And I have to admit to having a great time with my friends – so much so that, even though my wife and I had good seats, we ended up watching the whole show from the lawn, where our friends were. It was a blast. Here’s the review (an edited version will be on the site later – but nothing in print):

By Tony Hicks

thicks@bayareanewsgroup.com

So the guy in his 60s with a Flying V and spiky bleached hair ran out on stage Sunday night at the Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord. His head was swaddled in a big white bandage, his eyes squeezed tight against the bent prop-forks sticking in them, while he opened his mouth into a silent scream. Which would make sense for a guy with forks sticking into his eyes.

And, finally, all was right in the glorious world of rejuvenated arena metal.

 

 
Crazy forks-man was, of course, Scorpions’ guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who was letting the crowd know the tedious drum solo nobody came to see was over and it was time to launch into “Blackout,” the title song of the seminal 1982 album that made the Scorpions the biggest German import since the VW bug.

After 40 years, Sunday night was supposed to be it for Bay Area Scorpions’ fans. The band is calling it quits after this tour, and fans responded by filling up the Pavilion like it was the 80s again to say good-bye (seriously discounted tickets didn’t hurt either, but the Scorpions’ middle-aged fan base still had to take three aspirin, get up and go to work Monday morning).

Realistically, the band was a shadow of its former collective self, when it trailed perhaps only Van Halen as the world’s greatest live arena band. But it didn’t need to be. Sunday night was a reunion of sorts between the band and its old fans, and even fans and other fans (there was a lot of hugging in the crowd – who knew the Scorpions were uniters of humanity?) You could almost hear people remember lyrics after songs like “Holiday” and “Loving You Sunday Morning” started, when the sing-alongs would suddenly get louder halfway through the first verse. There was polite response to newer material (the Scorpions released “Sting in the Tail” earlier this year, the last in a long line of not-so-noteworthy records since 1990). But these people pulled out their concert gear and drove into the Contra Costa foothills to see the Scorpions play the material that reverberated through arenas and stadiums two decades ago.

And, for the most part, that’s what they got – though why 10-15 minutes of a show occupied by a drum solo that could have otherwise have been taken up by favorites they didn’t play (like “Arizona,” or “Can’t Get Enough”) – was fairly mind-boggling, as was the inclusion of lesser songs like “Tease Me Please Me.”  The 100-minute show seemed to move much faster than that, a testament to not only the band’s ability to still bring it (albeit in a more sedate fashion on stage), but the fact that the catalog contains so many good songs, major exclusions gave the set list some major holes.

But they rolled well early, with glimpses here and there of memorable stage antics, like singer Klaus Meine swinging his mic Roger Daltry-style and Schenker and lead guitarist Matthias Jabs doing the synchronized banging (what, no human pyramid anymore?) And, of course, there were the repeated shout-outs to “Caleeefooonah” in heavily-accented German, leading some to the conclusion our governor learned English by listening to Scorpions’ records. “Bad Boys Running Wild,” went into a great version of “The Zoo,” which morphed into the classic, all-band pile-up on the edge of the stage during “Coast to Coast.” “Make it Real,” lagged some but, really, no one cared. Same for the get-out-your-lighters (and you know it’s an older crowd when it’s still lighters, not cell phones, filling the air) power ballad “Wind of Change.”

A lull in the set list – and in the band’s energy – was refreshed with a charging “Dynamite,” with Jabs still seemingly shredding the skin off his fingers. After the flow-killing drum solo, at least the crowd got a few minutes of soloing from Jabs, a great guitarist overshadowed by his two cult-inspiring predecessors of the 70s, Michael Schenker and Uli Roth.   

They went predictable – or classic, depending on one’s point of view – for show enders “No One Like You,” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” People lingered, waiting for a possible “Can’t Get Enough,” or, since it was farewell, a real blast from the past like “Speedy’s Coming.” The Scorpions used to be great at leaving everything on stage instead of leaving anything out. But at the end, the old cliché of leaving them wanting more somehow worked.

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