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 has 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 a member of Accept since the ’90s, rhythm guitarist Herman Frank (Victory), who played in Accept during BALLS TO THE WALL era in the ’80s 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), present a hungry band that 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 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 to my calculations, this was their fourth gig in four years in Finland. Of course, Accept has performed in front of huge audiences in festivals worldwide, but I think that playing in front of over 9000 people in an indoor arena was something special for the band.
The band opened up with a pair of STALINGRAD tracks. The powerful opener “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” sounded tight, although there were some sound problems throughout 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 happened during the golden ’80s. There were some hilarious comments heard when the band next played a handful of classic-era Accept songs. For example, during “Breaker,” some older gentleman wondered out loud how different the band’s vocalist looks now than 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 plenty of new fans who had never seen him perform live. Hopefully, even the last of the ignorant are now aware of what’s the name of the 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 a 60-minute set, but they still offered a selection of songs to present a good section of the band’s repertoire. The Tornillo era was present with four tracks, especially “Pandemic” and “Teutonic Terror” got a good reception from the crowd. “Bulletproof” worked as 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 best-known song. After the show, it was great to hear all the feedback from the audience. And it can be said that 90% of it was just positive. Some people did hear about the band for the first time, some didn’t know that the band still exists, but a positive proof was that all Accept merchandise went sold out soon after the show. 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 occasionally played 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 the 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 pairs of drum sticks to the audience. It sure didn’t help that the sound was really horrible. At times it was tough even to recognize which song the band was playing. It was kind of funny that it was “Coast to Coast,” an all-instrumental track, which was actually the first song to get some motion in the audience. I rarely heard the 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 were they 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 the visual side of “Kottak Attack very much.” 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 the 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 led to “Big City Nights.” It was apparently a song that many had been waiting for the whole time. “Big City Nights” wrapped up the main set before another trio of band’s biggest hits in “Still Loving You,” “Wind of Change,” and finally “Rock You Like a Hurricane” brought the encore to a close.
Obviously, 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. The Scorpions show was entertaining, the band had enough energy for a two-hour show, and the setlist included all the band’s biggest hits to make a 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. 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 was in good spirits. Meine’s vocals were on target, Kottak was insane, but Schenker 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 from the running ramp portion of the stage.
EDIT: It seemed that most people got what they wanted and left the arena in good spirits. Both bands did a fantastic job and also got some new fans. But there was one thing that left bothering me … Because this show was historic, 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