Scorpions / Three – Live In Vancouver: September 12, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007
PNE Forum
Vancouver, BC  Canada


***Review and All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

The last time I saw Scorpions was back in the summer of 1999 on a co-headlining bill with Motley Crue and the Germans absolutely blew the sinking glam rockers off the stage.  Vince Neil was overweight and had trouble singing, Tommy Lee was out of the band and it was painfully obvious that NEW TATTOO was not the return to glory the Crue had hoped for.  On the other hand, Scorpions were absolutely stunning.  Supporting their own misstep—1999’s EYE II EYE—left a bad taste in many people’s mouths but on stage, vocalist Klaus Meine was in top form and the guitar tandem of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs traded licks like the professionals they are. 

This time around, Scorpions are riding high with the release of HUMANITY – HOUR 1 and booked Metal Blade Records’ progressive rock/metal band, Three, to open a string of Canadian and U.S. dates.  Striking Vancouver city workers forced a last-minute shuffling of venues that left many fans who had already bought reserved-seating tickets for the lavish Orpheum Theatre—home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra—unhappy about being relocated to the PNE Forum, a cavernous old hockey arena with General Admission floor and limited wooden bleacher-style seating.  The icing on the cake, though, was seeing the faces of the mostly forty-and-over crowd as they were told that it would be an alcohol-free event!  HA!

Three seemed like a strange addition to the tour but since I had enjoyed their Metal Blade debut, 2005’s WAKE PIG, I was interested in catching their set.  Much heavier live than they are on record, Three’s progressive hard rock/alt-metal hybrid is an odd fit with Scorpions straight-forward classic hard rock/metal and the crowd seemed ambivalent, in general.  Billy Riker’s noodling of the film score of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made the crowd take notice right away but while there was no booing, they just seemed very indifferent for the most part towards Three’s performance.  To their credit, Three played a superb, energetic set covering four WAKE PIG tracks and another seven from the excellent new album, THE END IS BEGUN.  Joey Eppard’s thrashing, spastic presence on stage is in direct opposition to the soaring voice he possesses.  He assails his acoustic guitar and after the intense set closer “Amaze Disgrace,” Eppard violently tore the strings away from the instrument body with a crazed look on his face.  On “Dregs,” Eppard even wavered between classical precision and just shredding away on his acoustic.  Drummer Chris Gartmann and keyboard/percussionist Joe Stote added a fluid drum solo where they launched a visually-impressive simultaneous assault on each other’s kits.  Three manages to pack a lot of different sounds into their music with the progressive “Battle Cry,” catchy-as-hell “Alien Angel” and crushing power chords of “These Iron Bones” making it difficult to pigeon-hole the band but their appeal is undoubtedly far-reaching. 

Alien Angel
Battle Cry
My Divided Falling
All That Remains
Serpents In Disguise
These Iron Bones
The End Is Begun
Diamond In The Crush
Amaze Disgrace

Many older bands torture their fans by interspersing the tried-and-true hits with new music that no one is interested in (ahem **Rolling Stones** cough) however the last two albums that Scorpions have released are an excellent return to form after stumbling through the mid- to late-nineties.  No one is lamenting the absence of any PURE INSTINCT or EYE II EYE material from the band’s setlist, but the UNBREAKABLE and HUMANITY – HOUR 1 songs fit right in with the classics from BLACKOUT, LOVE AT FIRST STING, ANIMAL MAGNETISM and LOVEDRIVE.  It was disappointing to find nothing drawn from SAVAGE AMUSEMENT and the band’s seventies’ output remains sadly ignored but for the most part, Scorpions two-hour live set delivered in spades.  Leading off with the raucous new track “Hour 1,” James Kottak’s thunderous drums mingled with Rudolf Schenker’s air raid siren riffs and behind it all was the timeless voice of Klaus Meine.  Schenker, looking amazingly fit and unnaturally youthful for a man of 59 years, kept his sunglasses on throughout the entire show while tirelessly windmilling his Flying V.  Meine, who was told in 1981 that he may never sing again following surgery on his vocal cords, sounds as if time has not touched his voice at all (though his shaky whistling on “Wind of Change” could use some fine-tuning).  Hitting all the highs on a glorious version of “Still Loving You” and taking everyone back to the band’s seminal live album, WORLD WIDE LIVE, Meine shouted “Are you with me toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight?!” during “Holiday.”  The crowd engaged in a rousing sing-along on “Bad Boys Running Wild” and when Pawel Maciwoda broke into a few bars of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” and Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato” on his bass solo, they roared with approval.  For his drum solo (dubbed “Kottak Attack”), former Kingdom Come skinsman James Kottak—who needs to ease up on the make-up—utilized a giant gong and bashed away for what seemed like an eternity.  Considering neither Matthias Jabs nor Rudolf Schenker took extended solos, we certainly could have done without seven-minutes of Kottak’s preening, but what would an arena-rock show be without one, right?!  The goofy cock-rock of “Tease Me Please Me” has not aged well but when Jabs brought out the talk-box for “The Zoo” and the band tore through eighties hard-rock anthems like “Dynamite,” “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and “Big City Nights,” twenty-plus years just faded away.  Even “321” from the new album is poised for a long-standing spot in the band’s setlist as the sludgy riff and fist-pumping chorus gets the adrenaline pumping immediately.   

Hour 1
Bad Boys Running Wild
Love ‘Em Or Leave ‘Em
The Zoo
Deep and Dark
Coast To Coast
Send Me An Angel
Make It Real
Tease Me, Please Me
Bass solo
Drum solo (“Kottak Attack”)
Big City Nights
Still Loving You
Rock You Like A Hurricane
Wind of Change

Along with 3 Inches of Blood’s Justin Hagberg and Cam Pipes, the 3,000 or so fans in attendance were left amazed that Scorpions can still deliver the goods.  It is a pity that the band no longer plays “Steamrock Fever,” “Dark Lady,” “Speedy’s Coming” or anything else pre-LOVEDRIVE but with a catalogue as stacked with hits as they have, it makes sense to keep the focus there.  The strength of HUMANITY – HOUR 1 is sure to get many older fans back on board and undoubtedly corral a few new ones, as well.  Rudolf Schenker first planted the seed that became the Scorpions in the late sixties and based on their look and sound nearly forty years later, there is no reason for them to consider stopping anytime soon.

***Thanks to Jenny at Live Nation and Kelli at Metal Blade Records for the press passes and help at the show.

Scorpions—Official Site
Three—Official Site

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