HARTWALL ARENA, HELSINKI
11’th of November 2013
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
German bands Scorpions and Accept made history by appearing together for the first time in their decades-long careers. Having these two legendary bands performing at the same event sounds like a brilliant idea and the audience seems to agree, as the Helsinki gig sold comfortably over 9000 tickets. Accept have been enjoying great success since their latest re-union, or “the rebirth”, which took place in 2009. The renewed line-up consists of founding members guitarist Wolf Hoffman and bassist Peter Baltes, drummer Stefan Schwarfmann who’s been on/off member of Accept since the 90’s, rhythm guitarist Herman Frank (Victory) who played in Accept during BALLS TO THE WALL era in the 80’s and vocalist Mark Tornillo (ex-T.T Quick) who has replaced the original singer Udo Dirkschneider. Their latest two releases BLOOD OF THE NATIONS (2010) and STALINGRAD (2012) both present a hungry band which wants to go strongly ahead and not live in the past. Accept is one of the most successful German metal bands ever but the Scorpions is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time. The band was formed in in 1965 by Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker and to this day the band has released 17 studio, 6 live and several collection albums which altogether have reached sales of 75 over million copies worldwide. In January of 2010, the band announced their intentions for STING IN THE TAIL to be their last album, with the tour supporting it being their final tour. But during the tour Scorpions changed their minds and here we are, more than three years later, witnessing the first Scorpions show in Helsinki since 2004. But before that it’s time to check out of the mighty Accept…
RELEASED WITH COURTESY OF THIS IS ROCK MAGAZINE (WWW.THISISROCK.NET)
Accept have been a regular visitor in Finland during the past years. According my calculations this was their fourth gig in four years in Finland. Of course Accept has performed in front of huge audiences in festivals across the world but I think that playing in front of over 9000 people in indoor arena was something special for the band as well.
The band opened up with a pair of STALINGRAD tracks. The powerful opener “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” sounded tight although there was some problems with the sound through the song. Fortunately that was soon fixed and the title track of STALINGRAD sounded crystal clear. Although there were a handful of noisy Accept fans in the front row, it was obvious that most of this audience had never heard about Accept, and if they had, it must have happen during the golden 80’s. There we’re some really funny comments heard when band next played a handful of classic era Accept songs. For example, during “Breaker” some older gentleman wondered out loud how different the bands vocalist does look now compared to the “good old times”. Well… The band itself didn’t seem to care a bit of a relatively quiet reception but instead they gave their best on stage. Tornillo led his troops with passion, sang great and for sure he got a plenty of new fans who had never saw him performing live. Hopefully, even the last of the ignorant are now aware of what’s the name of lead singer of Accept now.
Hoffman and Baltes were the hard working men on stage. Their classical moves inevitably brought a smile to your face and Hoffman’s guitar work was just amazing to follow through the show. The band only had 60 minute set but they still managed to offer a selection of songs to present a good section of bands repertoire. The Tornillo era was present with four tracks and especially “Pandemic” and “Teutonic Terror” got a good reception from the crowd. “Bulletproof” worked an example of the band’s 90-chapter and of course there were a set of mandatory classics. It was made very clear that “Balls to the Wall” is still the band’s best known song. After the show it was great to hear all the feedback among the audience. And it can be said that 90% of it was just positive. Some people did heard about the band for the first time, some didn’t knew that the band still exist but a positive proof was that soon after the show all Accept merchandise went sold out. And if you ask what I did think about the show, as said before, Accept is currently the best metal band in the world. Period.
Hung, Drawn and Quartered
Restless and Wild
Princess of the Dawn
Balls to the Wall
Although Scorpions haven’t played in Helsinki in a long time, they have been playing occasionally elsewhere in Finland like in Miljoonarock in Tuuri and Kotkan Meripaivat. The Scorpions have always managed to maintain a strong following among the Finns and in addition to Helsinki gig the band now played also in Seinajoki and Oulu. Together, these concerts sold more than 20 000 tickets..
The Scorpions hit the stage and opened with the title track of STING IN THE TAIL album followed with ANIMAL MAGNETISM classic “Make It Real”. It seemed that, one reason or another, the reactions of attendance were pretty lame. And the next song “Is There Anybody There?” received not much better reception although Meine did his best to awake people. A man repeated give-and-takes with the crowd and threw out at least 50 pair of drum sticks to the audience. It sure didn’t help that the sound was really horrible. At times it was really hard to even recognize which song the band was playing. It was kind of funny that it was “Coast to Coast”, all instrumental track, which was actually the first song to get some kind of motion in the audience. Rarely heard LOVEDRIVE album track “Loving You Sunday Morning” sounded great but again, it seemed to be completely unknown to the general public. I heard some people wondering “When they were going to play some of the big hits?” They soon got what they ordered when the band did next a brief acoustic set including the hit ballads “Send Me An Angel” and “Holiday”. The ’80s rock flavoring and sense of humor was quite evident here as Schenker played on an acoustic V-neck guitar.
A bit surprisingly STING IN THE TAIL track “Raised on Rock” was one of the evening’s highlights. The song really rocked hard and it was indeed that the band enjoyed more playing these newer tracks instead of the classics. James Kottak’s drum solo was probably dividing people’s opinions half, for and against. In fact, there was nothing spectacular in his drumming but I liked it very much the visual side of “Kottak Attack”. As he played, the video screens showed him being interjected into come-to-life re-enactments of the band’s album covers. At the end of his solo, Kottak was wearing a t-shirt with the words of ROCK AND ROLL FOREVER. A man then took off his shirt and there were the same words tattooed on his back, with the same fonts used as on t-shirt. It was a lot of fun and it was definitely another highlight of the show. In a good way, Kottak is a crazy man and his solo was fun and entertaining. Matthias Jabs played through his guitar solo on “Six String Sting,” which then led to “Big City Nights”. It was apparently a song what many had been waiting for the whole time. “Big City Nights” wrapped up the main set before another trio of bands biggest hits in “Still Loving You”, “Wind of Change” and finally “Rock You like a Hurricane” brought the encore to a close.
The Scorpions show was entertaining, the band had energy enough for two hour show and set list included all the bands biggest hits to make majority of people happy. But in my opinion, it would’ve been great if they had played another song or two from the Uli Jon Roth era. Also their two previous albums UNBREAKABLE and HUMANITY HOUR 1 were completely ignored which was really unfortunate. Visually the band’s much-vaunted 3D screen show was rather disappointing and looked really amateurish but what matters most is that the band itself were in good spirits. Meine’s vocals were on target, Kottak was insane but it was Schenker who was a true star on stage. It was just amazing to witness how 63 year old Schenker was able to implement such a high-octane show. A man frequently ran and jumped across the stage and to and from of the running ramp portion of the stage.
It’s obvious that there’s still plenty of life on these Scorpions and if you have a chance, check them out before they call it quits for good.
EDIT: It seemed that majority of the people got what they wanted and eft the arena in good spirits. Both bands did a fantastic job and also got some new fans. But there was one thing which left bothering me … Because this show was a kind of historical, it would have been great if Accept and Scorpions would have shared the stage and played something together in the end? But it never happened….
Sting in the Tail
Make It Real
Is There Anybody There?
Coast to Coast
Loving You Sunday Morning
The Best Is Yet to Come
Send Me an Angel
Raised on Rock
Tease Me Please Me
Hit Between the Eyes
Six String Sting
Big City Nights
Still Loving You
Wind of Change
Rock you like a Hurricane