Sunday, July 11, 2010
Last night I got a wild hair and went down to the thunder dome Bridgestone Arena for a little novelty from the 80's. It was a back to back arena rock attack from Ratt and the Scorpions. I guess the Scorpions are going on their swan song farewell tour, supposedly lasting until 2012 or 13, barring any unforeseen suture incidents. Knowing little about either band other than their few hits on the local classic rock station, I thought it might be fun to see how aging classic rockers get down. I guess I got exactly what I expected, from the bands, as well as the crowd. It was a sea of Affliction gear, mullets, and pear shaped rock mommas in their favorite old Ratt t-shirts. Definitely a crowd I could get down with.
After buying one half of a fan's radio prize because his "old lady didn't wanna come", I got in and found a spot in one of the many empty seats right as Ratt was finishing their first song. My first impression was that this stage set and act overall was smaller than I expected. I guess they were the opening act but it seemed to lack a little bit of the assault I was looking for. I guess it also didn't help that the singer kept saying he "wasn't out here jackin' around because he didn't wanna tear [his] stitches". I thought that was funny to hear from an aging rocker. Probably not the line they gave the groupies in 1988. I couldn't help but wonder where the stitches were. A hernia maybe? Appendix? I'd like to think it was a big gash from laying down a Harley in a hotel lobby but it's probably more like stepping on a bottle cap on the Holiday Inn balcony. They treated us to some apparent old favorites as well as some new ones from their cleverly entitled latest release "Infestation" including "Eat Me Alive" and the older "Loving You Is A Dirty Job". Ratt was fun, they looked a little tired but they put on a fun show. The bass player was the most entertaining, bearing a striking resemblance to Metallica's Robert Trujillo. He had lots of energy and played like he had absolutely no pesky stitches to worry about. They ended the set predictably with their biggest hit "Round and Round", and headed straight for the oxygen tanks.
After changing seats during the 45 minute changeover break due to the worst smelling person I have ever sat behind, the Scorpions hit the stage like they had some really good stuff in the green room. Everyone but the singer Klaus Meine that is. It took him a couple of songs to get going but the drummer James Kottak and the lead guitarist Rudolf Schenker had an energy seen usually from rockers who could be their grand kids. As they settled in for the unplugged power ballad portion of the show, complete with an acoustic Gibson Flying V, they brought on the yawns with new selections from "Sting In The Tail" like "The Best Is Yet To Come" and older bores like "Send Me An Angel" and "Holiday". After a few more old Scorpion favorites, they went to the much needed solo portion of the show. This seems to be common in the older classic rocker crowd. I guess it gives everyone a break to re-up on some of that green room goodness and/or Metamucil. The drummer came out and played his solo along to a psycho nightmare style video on the big screen complete with crowd screaming sound effects and recorded song tracks. The act was interesting but the drumming itself was less than impressive. Really any monkey with a double kick pedal could have pulled that off, including slamming of the beer and yelling "and now, REALLY FAST!!!!" like a kindergartner on a merry-go-round. The drums led into a song, which led promptly into the Nigel Tufnel-esque guitar solo, again complete with video and sound effects. At this point, I was really ready for this show to be over. With a couple more songs that sounded just like the rest, they finished with "Big City Nights", one of the more recognizable numbers. Then they spent a couple of minutes running around waving their arms and posing to thank the crowd. This seemed to go on forever. Really guys, take a bow and get off stage. The beer is cheering, not fans who want to see silent staggering around. After a short break, they came out and introduced their biggest power ballad yet, "Winds Of Change". When they started the whistling intro, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to leave. I can only imagine that they finished the whole thing off with a rousing version of "Rock You Like A Hurricane", but I'd rather hear it on the Rock than sit in after show traffic with those drunk yahoos.
If I had been as drunk as 95 percent of the crowd, I would have had a blast. I just wasn't feeling it. That's not to say that the rest of the audience didn't love it. From the middle aged screamers to the kid covering his face so as not to inhale any pot smoke, I couldn't believe how many people love the Scorpions. Most of them knew every word and played every song, air-note for air-note. It made me wonder what kind of stir they must have created in their hay day. It gives me hope that in 40 years I might be able to see Kings of Leon play their old favorites for aging hipsters or write snarky comments about Dave Matthews' 3 year reunion/farewell tour. These guys were huge in their prime, thus proving that there is something for everyone, and anyone who doesn't have something will gladly lap up whatever the radio feeds them.