July 27, 2010
If you've heard any of the Scorpions new material, you know that it's pretty terrible. I don't just mean, "Man, I really don't like this." I mean, terrible. Given that their old stuff is solid (and even maybe "great" to someone who enjoys hair metal more than me) within the larger context of the times in which it was recorded, their new record is still embarrassing in comparison.
Take the lyrics to the single "Raised on Rock":
"Cause I was raised on rock / My dad was howling but my heart was a rolling stone / Yeah, I was raised on rock / My mama said I had a devil to scratch my soul / And I was raised on rock."
Let me admit up front that I'm not in the core demographic Scorpions and opening band Tesla aim for. I find it representative of everything excessive and ridiculous about rock 'n' roll. I do like Spinal Tap, though, and we wouldn't have Spinal Tap without acts like Scorpions.
So, anyway, going in to this show I had the lowest of all expectations. After seeing Robert Plant last week, I anticipated that the Scorpions show would be much worse, but that I would be far less disappointed since I went in expecting it. Actually it was a lot, lot better.
The most pleasant surprise was that lead singer Klaus Meine's iconic voice was nearly the same as it was 40 years ago. Though it wouldn't have been, like, an international tragedy if it had it changed, those pipes are so important to the band's overall sound that it would have been hard to overlook.
And, sure, there was a 10-minute drum solo which featured a disgustoid long-form music video in the background, highlighting as often as possible the drummer making out with a youngish blond women, grabbing her boobs on more than one occasion. Yes, the same drummer who played that solo took his shirt on and off at least three separate times during the course of the show. Were there massive numbers of lights and video projections? You betcha. And don't forget about the stage set with multiple layers and tiers, featuring a movable drum tower that extended a good 20 feet above the rest of the stage.
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Aside from the complaints of those sitting around me that the show was too short, people seemed to be rocking out as though it Hurricane Gilbert and Vinny Testaverde were coming to town.
Additionally, the band did their damndest to pop the crowd. They must have said the name of our town at least a dozen times, and of course, their encore featured the song "Arizona," which, of course, remarks on how wonderfully loose Arizona women are. It recounts a story of the singer meeting an Arizona gal and screwing her in the back of a car, and includes the lyrics, "Arizona really feels all right / Girls swing here and they treat you right / Have so many special ways, you know / And that's all right."
But there was something else that stood out last night, aside from the blatant sexism. During "Arizona," the video background featured an Arizona flag and the state motto "Ditat Deus," meaning "God enriches." The band, of course, also played "Wind of Change," which became iconic as one of the songs people associated with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The fall of the Berlin Wall represents the end of an oppressive regime. It was the unification of East and West Germany, ans was supposed to be the beginning of the incorporation of the marginalized Eastern Europe into the rest of the continent.
Okay, class: Which continent is currently marginalizing nearly one half of itself? And for a bonus: Is there a state bordering that country that will have racist legislation made legal in less than 24 hours?
The irony of this was too much for me to bear.
The Crowd: Mostly middle aged and older, some with their kids, clad in black T-shirts from some metal-esque band or other. There was also a smattering of Scottsdale looking women, surprisingly.
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Overheard in the Crowd: Complaints that the set was only an hour, and 1/6 of that hour was occupied by a drum solo.
Random Notebook Dump: Way too much shirt stripping by drummer James Kottak.
The Best is Yet to Come (off new record)
Wind of Change
Raised on Rock (off of new record)
Big City Nights
No One Like You
Rock You Like a Hurricane