5.9 2004 Ice Hall, Helsinki FINLAND
Review and photos by Marko Syrjala
In the ’80s, the Scorpions were definitely one of the biggest bands in the hard rock world. They were playing for sold-out audiences everywhere in the world, and they also sold millions of records. However, during the nineties, things started to go wrong for Scorpions. After a few experimental and commercially unsuccessful albums, they finally returned to their musical roots with the new brilliant UNBREAKABLE album.
Although UNBREAKABLE hasn’t sold like its predecessors in the 80’s, it has done something right. Many of the old fans who rejected them for years have now returned to see their shows again, and there are many new generation fans in the audience. About 5000 people were witnessing this show in Helsinki even though just one day before, they played another gig in Finland in Tuuri, and there were almost 20,000 people there to see them.
The show began at 9:30 pm when the intro started to hum from the PA system, and soon the Scorpions hit the stage. The band kick-started with “New Generation” from the new album UNBREAKABLE and then followed another (and the best track) from the new album “Love’Em or Leave’Em.” In their heydays in the ’80s, the Scorpions used to have quite a big stage show with tons of pyro and huge stage buildings. Today their stage set was quite elementary. There was just a huge metallic Scorpions logo hanging on the wall and two big flags with printed “real scorpions” that looked cool. But in this case, music did the talking. For the next 2 hours, it’s a non-stop rock’n roll onslaught with one classic Scorpions song after another until they finished off with “Big City Nights.”
The encores kicked off with Schenker strumming the simple but effective acoustic riff of the haunting “Still Loving You.” The band then raised the ante again with another super ballad, “Wind Of Change,” before closing with a thundering version of “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” The original members and co-founders – Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker – are both in their mid-50’s, but it is impossible to tell that they are really that old. They command the stage with more energy than players half their age. I thought that Rudolf was now moving even more than ever before. Absolutely brilliant! There is one negative thing about Klaus, which must be said here.
Is it really necessary to throw away dozens of drum sticks during the show? I think it looked silly, and it was redundant. Then we have drummer James Kottak (ex-Warrant, Kingdom Come). This man has a lot of power in his playing, and he also has a very great sense of humor. During the usually boring (but necessary) drum solo, he constantly roared and screamed into his headset microphone, and at the end of the solo, he crashed a beer bottle in his forehead. He positively tried to destroy both the drum kit and his head in the name of rock ‘n’ roll, but fortunately, only the bottle was broken. Matthias Jabs played lead guitar like he has been doing for over twenty years. I don’t know if I am a bit solitary with my opinion, but somehow he was quite absent. His guitar solo was horrible, just a waste of time. He made several mistakes in his playing, and he hardly moved across the stage at all, even though he is almost ten years younger than some other guys on the same stage. Maybe it just wasn’t his best day or something?
Last but not least, there is still the band’s brand new bass player – Pawel Maciwoda. Well, he did his job professionally with no big surprises here. He definitely has a great rock image, and his stage presence was much better than his predecessor Ralph Rieckerman.
The set contained all the hits and more: everything from “We Will Burn The Sky” (from 1978 album TAKEN BY FORCE) to their latest masterpiece, UNBREAKABLE, was played with the true conviction had even middle-aged doubters standing up with their fists in the air. Classic songs like “Rock You Like Hurricane” and “Big City Nights” were audience favorites that night, and most of the people were satisfied, but I was still waiting for them to play at least a couple of songs from SAVAGE AMUSEMENT or FACE THE HEAT albums? Or maybe some more stuff from the ’70s!? Well, you can never get everything, but this was really a good gig overall. Scorpions may have seen their best days commercially, and maybe their best creative moments may have passed…but based on this one night in Helsinki, they are still infused with the spirit that once made them great. There’s still plenty of life left on these scorpions!
Love’ Em or Leave’Em
Bad Boys Runnin wild
We Will Burn The Sky
Deep and Dark
Coast to Coast
Through My Eyes
Remember the Good Times
Tease Me Please Me
Blood Too Hot
Big City Nights
Still Loving You
Wind of Change
Rock You Like a Hurricane