With much uncertainty and anticipation I went to see The Scorpions performed their farewell show in Los Angeles. They were and still are “the champagne” of rock bands. After over 45 years they’ve decided to hang it up. They didn’t want to be remembered as an artist that over stayed their welcome. The genre of hard rock became diluted with bands that could only boast of having one or two hits. The term “hair bands” became the term non rock audiences used to refer to in a disparagingly tone towards this genre of rock music.
The list is endless of the one hit wonder rock bands that every year go on tour to placate spiritless fans. Interestingly, playing the same night in Southern CA. was Def Leppard playing with Poison and Lita Ford. I checked my sources and that show, like The Scorpions, sold out.
Having your song “Rock you Like A Hurricane” being covered in a movie supposedly about rock and roll by Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough in the film “Rock of Ages” absolutely bastardizes the greatness of rock music. I mean, Tom Cruise singing! Don’t make me puke! On the other hand Julianne is a wonderful country singer.
Some people call it nostalgia others refer to it as “selling out”. I can’t remember the last Def Leppard album that was released. Yet every summer they tour to packed houses giving the impression that they are still relevant. Naturally, as the old saying goes, “money talks” and Def Leppard still sell out their concerts. Def Leppard concerts are filled with middle-aged women looking to recapture their youth. They swoon when Joe Elliott sings their power ballads. It’s as if Mr. Elliott is singing directly to them. Admittedly, Def Leppard has sold over 100 million records worldwide and Pyromania will be remembered as an icon release. But all has been quiet over the last few years and they’ve totally ignored involvement for the new millennium. Their catalogue is still unavailable on I-tunes! Drummer Rick Allen has been taking up art to expose his “inner self” of having just one arm. I applaud him for his new endeavor and perhaps critics will find it interesting.
My reasons for writing about both bands are that I was fortunate enough to promote both of these artists at the same time. Rockin’ was my business and business was good! This was a wonderful time in my career and I relished it like there was no tomorrow. For the record both bands were hugely successful and I simply was at the right place at the right time. Both artists were professional and absolute pleasures to work with.
My contention is that between both of these mega rock bands, The Scorpions are better performers! Please don’t think I’m “ragging” on Def Leppard, because they were spectacular in concert. Always exciting to watch. Never giving their audience less!
I witnessed a riot at a Def Leppard concert in Phoenix during the Pyromania tour. It was sold out and throngs of ticket less fans broke through the fences to see the show. Someone had set a car on fire next to the backstage entrance. The stage bellowed with smoke. It was Pyromania in action! Joe Elliott wisely stopped the concert and had the band abandon the stage until order was restored. During this unexpected intermission the Phoenix police, fire department and concert security finally got the upper hand and the band came back out to finish their show. But to this day I will remember Mr. Elliott’s speech that the band will not play until the fighting ceased and he meant it!
When you saw The Scorpions perform you were in for a full frontal attack. They were relentless and would give no quarter. The guitar interplay between Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs was like a hot knife in butter. They were equally adept at the playing of their instruments, but unlike Def Leppard they would drive their audience into jungle frenzy.
Here’s something quite special, Rudolf and Matthias giving a guitar lesson and explaining their experience of writing two Scorpion’s classics.
You can’t compare songs like “The Zoo” to “Rock of Ages” in concert. I’m sorry to say it but it’s true. At the same time “No One Like You” is a better song live than “Photograph”! I’m comparing “green apples” to “green apples. During a Scorpions encore, singer Klaus Meine would have to be carried to get oxygen so that he would have that energy to sing “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and finish the concert.
The recent Scorpions show saddened me yet I felt that they had the dignity not to continue to tour and become a parody of themselves. Their L.A. farewell show proved that they are the best hard rock band in concert. The production was cleverly conceived when they would show early videos of past concerts and showing a frenzied audience. They reached deep into their catalogue and played songs from Animal Magnetism and Lovedrive. The crowd chanted with such voracity when they played “Wind of Change” while showing film clips of the Berlin Wall actually being disassembled. It was as if you were sharing an experience with history. Singer, Klaus Meine didn’t miss one note throughout the entire show and maintained the energy of a lead singer half his age. The sold out crowd sang along with Klaus, note for note. This song was a life-effecting track for millions of people throughout the world.
Throughout the show each song had assembled an ingenious production mix of film, computer graphics and animation. I compare it to looking through a family photo album and being touched by the memories.
The Scorpions opened their show with the rocker “Sting in the Tail” from the 2010 album titled the same and went right into “Make it Real”. This video was taken from their performance in Moscow.
Early favorites like “The Zoo” got me hopped up, especially when the audience sang every word. I took my 23-year-old son and he was just so excited that they played all his favorites and was able to share the experience with his father.
The Scorpions will always have a place in my heart and I wish them the best.
Jefferson A. Laufer
LA ROCK BANDS