Over The Rainbow, Cyanide
Makedonikos Stadium, Thessaloniki, Greece

The relationship between Scorpions and Greek audience has been a quite complex one. Especially, the last five years, where this great rockers from the past, have played on every corner that’s available in this country and fits their high standards.

Coming to this event’s report, I should start with the fact that this tour is promoted, as the “Final Tour of Scorpions” as they’ve already announced the end of the band, as far as discography is concerned. Having this in mind, a big part of the audience gave their presence and money of course, to see for one last time(?) live “ the Scorpions”.

Expectations for a great/special setlist from all their back catalogue, that will cover their entire carrier, surely had taken place in everyone’s mind. So, I won’t put myself out of those who had these thoughts, when I arrived at Makedonikos Stadium at about 20:00. Having missed completely the appearance of the first support act Cyanide, and seeing “Giorgos Gakis’ Troublemakers” half setlist I had a wonderful time, realising that they where the greatest warm up for such a concert playing 80’s metal/hard rock hit-single covers, in a most conviencing and entertaining way, than the band that followed.

Over the Rainbow that followed, consist of the rock legend vocalist John Lynn Turner, Bobby Rodinelli on drums and of course, JR Blackmore (Ritchie Blackmore’s son) on guitars. As many of you might already know, this band covers Rainbow songs, not in the most conviencing way, as I’ve already mentioned. Jurgen Blackmore’s abilities on guitar playing, surely don’t resemble of his father’s abilities and stage mastering figure. Noisy and confused outcome, although all the other members tried to be at least up to expectations, this guitar-noise thing ruined the whole stage presence…To be even more precise, I’ve attended Rainbow tribute bands from Greece, that where a lot closer to the original songs, than this band, on this date at least. Maybe, it’s time some concert promoters open their ears and feed those who love what they do, especially here in Greece. After a short break and the stage setting up for the Scorpions. Everyone seemed ready for another “Big –rockin- City Night”.

At about 22:15, the led walls started the intro for the Scorpions and after 2 minutes they entered the stage with full power, running towards every direction, including amongst the crowd on the front lines, using a special stage extention. Opening track “Sting In the Tail” though, proved not a good opener, as it didn’t “wake” the audience. Next, came the first oldie “Make it real” being more proper to move the crowd, but the concert seemed to have started from track three. “Bad boys running wild” , ”Is there anybody there” and “The Zoo” really gave the rhythm to everyone. The band had warmed up and “Coast to Coast” together with “We’ll Burn the sky” brought smiles to everyone who had imagined a nice special playlist.

A short break, with another new track “The best is yet to come” a common Scorpions rock ballad, made me wonder if it was on the setlist for any specific reason. I got my answer with the next three tracks. “Send me an Angel” plus “Holiday” plus another new rock ballad “The good die young”. Maybe it’s only me, but this was the complete disappointment of the evening. Four ballads in a raw, two of which new and completely unknown tracks -without the sparkle of a Scorpions power ballad- really made me reconsider, why did I pay to see this concert?

With me trying to figure out what could follow, to make me move again after this big ballad break, Scorpions went on rockin’ with “Raised on Rock” from the final album again. Oldie “Tease Me, Please Me” together with “321” from the previous album “Humanity” where just nice to hear, but nothing special. Now, it was time for another big break, for the supposedly interesting drum solo of James Kottak that seemed to last about a whole century, with him and his drumkit hanged on a special stage construction, but actually not playing that much, as he was backed up with a video wall projection that played two times in a raw together with him. This was getting really quite tiring, but as a concert must-see, we had to live with it…

After five wasted minutes, redemption came when the sound of “Blackout” riff hit the stage and Scorpions really took everyone back, to where they left them 8 songs before! Last song of the setlist “Big City nights” closed the main part, with Scorpions leaving the stage and us praying for a perfect encore…

After a few minutes, they re-enter the stage, announcing “Still loving You’! Although the touch of every Scorpions’ ballad is imminent, and the crowd is stunned and singing along everytime -as they do with every old refrain- I can’t believe I have to hear another ballad, even if it’s one of their best. But this was not over, until we heard “Wind of change” right after “Still…”. This was unbelievable! Six ballads in a single concert. Hoping that the last song would be something proper and rockin’, Scorpions had “Rock you like a hurricane” prepared to finish this evening. I’m afraid, I have to say, that it wasn’t perfect but it was rather expected…

After this bittersweet appearance, on my way back home, I had to sum up the whole evening. The thing that kept rolling inside my head, was that my rather big expectations, didn’t live up to reality. Scorpions sounded tired, the sound being perfect but somehow not loud enough, the setlist being far away from the “Final tour”setlist I had imagined, as it turned out more of a new release promotion evening. The crowd seemed to enjoy, but they didn’t participate willingly.

Final thought though, was the presence of many youngsters of about 1 metre tall, enjoying their first rock live experience. Scorpions, after so many years, remain a strong live experience, even if they choose to play old stuff, ballads or soft rock material, they are one of the highest qualities on stage, and this is what gives them the respect they surely deserve. Many grew up with them, and will in the future…

This wasn’t the final time they performed live in Greece and I’ m sure this will be done, in a more proper way/setlist/performance…So, don’t miss them on their actual “Final tour” !

Andrew Koran.