|Scorpions – Hamburg, Barclaycard Arena - 29 November 2016|
|Written by Colin Hunt|
|Saturday, 10 December 2016 06:00|
Since the moment I left the Barclaycard Arena on the 29th of November, I‘ve been trying to think of one word to describe what I’d just heard and seen. The only word that seems to fit was HUGE. This may seem a strange choice, but the Barclaycard Arena is a huge venue with a huge stage and video screens. It’s just the place where you need a huge band such as the Scorpions, a band with a huge show and a huge sound.
As one of the photographers at the gig, I was allowed to photograph the band during the opening three tracks of the concert from what is commonly called the pit. After the intro of wailing sirens and space sounds, the concert began with ‘Going Out With A Bang’ started with the stage curtain falling to the ground accompanied by a massive bang and smoke. On the raised platform sat the drum kit in front of a huge video screen the width of the stage.
To be honest my first impression was that the drum kit was slightly dwarfed by the screen behind, however as the concert progressed this proved to be wrong. To either side of this screen were two smaller ones. All along the front of the raised platform was another screen, which the rest of the band stood in front of. In the middle, coming out of the main stage area, was the statutory walk way into the crowd. It was around this walk way that we were allowed to take our photographs.
‘Going Out With A Bang’ is fast and furious opener, with the screens showing balls of fire, huge speakers and live stream of the band playing. On the main stage, middle right as I looked at it, was Klaus Meine (vocals), and too his right was Matthias Jabs (guitar). Middle left on the main stage was Rudolf Schenker (guitar) and to his left was Paweł Mąciwoda (bass). On the raised platform in charge of the drums was Mickey Dee.
The second song was ‘Make It Real’ accompanied by a video of the band members in silhouette playing in front of a red flag with the symbol of Hamburg. Nice touch that, and then later the German flag. This song is a bit slower than the opening with really catch guitar riffs and vocals. Next was ‘The Zoo’ which is an excellent rock song also with a very catchy guitar rift and beat to it. Throughout this song the screens were showing live stream of the band performing over red graphics that looked like cages, live stream of the band and black and white spider web shapes.
During the section of the song with Matthias Jabs using a talk box to modify his guitar sound, the other two guitarists went up to the raised platform and stood either side of the drum kit. Klaus took the opportunity to throw out some drum sticks to the crowd. With the first three songs completed, all the photographers were then led out of the arena as we were no longer allowed to have our cameras with us. This was in spite of the fact that throughout the show, many of the fans were using mini cameras and handy’s (mobile phones) to photograph and video everything.
By the time I returned to the arena the band was playing ‘We Built This House’ with an excellent lyric video being displayed on the screens. Next was the instrumental ‘Delicate Dance’ that allowed Matthias Jabs to show off his guitar playing skills with some excellent riffs and fingering. During this song both Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine left the stage, and the remaining band members were joined by Ingo Powiter on guitar, who is Matthias’s guitar technician.
Following this, was the start of a three track mini acoustic set, the first song being ‘Always Somewhere’. This started with Klaus singing and Matthias and Rudolf on guitar at the end of the walk way. A small drum was also placed there behind the three of them, and then about 90 seconds into the song, along came Mikey Dee with towel in hand to start playing the drums, closely followed by Paweł Mąciwoda. The next two songs in the medley were ‘Eye Of The Storm’ and ‘Send Me an Angel’. The latter started with vocals and guitars and the crowd slowly waving their hands back and forth in time to the rhythm. Then when the chorus arrived everyone joined in with the singing. Throughout these songs the big screens were off, with just the side screen showing live video of Klaus singing or the crowd singing along. At the end of the acoustic set the crowd showed there appreciation with everyone clapping.
Klaus then introduced the next song ‘Wind Of Change’, which was greeted with great applause, being that it is probably their most known song. This started with Klaus whistling the opening tune while a dove could be seen flying across the main screen. He then sang the opening lines until the first wind of change lyrics and then invited everyone to sing the next verse. With beams of white light shining down onto the stage the atmosphere in the arena was electric, and then Klaus said “Come On Hamburg” and the heavier section started with the big screen showing the top of clouds gently floating past. With Mickey back at the drum kit he looked like he was floating there. With the heavier section over, Klaus walked to the end of the walk way, and with the arena lit up, he got the audience to sing, while holding the mike stand and microphone out over the audience, accompanied only by Mickey’s drumbeat. He then joined in with vocals for the last two lines while the peace symbol was displayed on the big screens with live images of the crowd singing. The the words Save Our Earth where displayed on the lower screen as graffiti art. What can I say, just awesome.
Next we were treated to ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Band’, probably the fastest of their songs in the set, with screeching guitars and the back screens showing live video of the band playing, so even those in the further reaches of the arena had a chance to see them. And with Klaus getting the crowd to respond to “Do you want to know who I am?” with “I’m In A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band”, the song was moving along nicely. Then the music suddenly stopped, and all the lights went out, which gave me a huge shock as I was writing my notes at the time. This dropped the arena into complete darkness to a huge cheer, before everything returned to normal and the band finished the song. Expertly done, and an unexpected surprise. Next we had ‘Dynamite’ and another fast guitar anthem, that had the real lights flashing away with white beams, and matching imagery lights on the screens, with the occasional screen of fire that was first seen during the first three songs. All very hypnotic, in its own way.
Next came the tribute to Lemmy, and with Mikey Dee on drums, you really couldn’t expect anything else. The track they chose was one of my favourite Motörhead songs ‘Overkill’. Now in my notes, I’d written that I was slightly disappointed with their cover, but on reflection there was nothing wrong with it: I’m just so used to hearing Lemmy sing it in his gruff vocal style, that anything else and everything else seems wrong. No disrespect to the Scorpions, they performed this song excellently. Seeing the pictures of Lemmy on the big screen brought back some memories from when I had the privilege to see Motörhead live in Guildford many years ago.
Following this, it was time for the drum solo. I thought I’d seen everything already at this gig by now, but here we had the drum kit being lifted high into the air as Mickey thrashed out his solo. When he stopped there was a huge cheer, and he stood up to encourage the audience for more. I hope he was strapped in. With the drum kit descending and sirens wailing with blue police lights flashing on all the screens, on runs Rudolf Schenker with a black flying V guitar with a smoke cylinder strapped to it for the next song ‘Blackout’. This was put to best use when both he and Matthias Jabs ran to the end of the walk way to do the guitar solos. A well performed song with heavy riffs that I really enjoyed. I was also beginning to wonder if Rudolf was changing his guitar every song. It was always a flying V, but looking back it always seemed different.
Next was ‘No One Like You’, another classic rock ballad starting with screeching guitars, then in come the vocals and the really catchy chorus that everyone in the audience joined in with. Next was ‘Big City Nights’, accompanied by excellent use of the video screens, with images of a big city street full of traffic, and then the band altogether on the right of the stage, and then the street with a semi naked lass swinging her body back and forth to the rhythm of the music. This time the guitar solo was performed by Rudolf who ran to the end of the walkway with a cowboy hat on. For the end of the solo he was accompanied by Matthias and Paweł, before they all retreated to the main stage allowing Klaus to come forward and encourage the crowd to join in with the singing. Then it was the typical power chord ending as Klaus finished his vocals and started clapping and Rudolf jumping into the air for the final power chords, finishing with his right arm in the air as the last chord died away, and it was over. Or was it?
With the crowd clapping, the band soon returned to perform ‘Still Loving You’, with images of fire and volcanic eruptions along with live stream of the band on the big screens. This has to be my favourite song of the night. It’s an excellent ballad, the crowd sang the chorus, and the weeping guitar playing throughout from Rudolf was awesome. It sent a real shiver down my back. Next, Klaus got the crowd to respond to some “Yeah. Yeahs”, before singing the opening verse of ‘Holiday’ with the crowd joining in. After this short a cappella version of ‘Holiday’, the band kicked in with the opening chords of ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’. This proved to be the last song of the set, and was an excellent choice, with more great guitar riffs and crowd participation. And then it stopped, very briefly, before another classic round of wailing guitars, arms swinging in 360 degree loops, heavy drums and Klaus asking for some noise. Then a moment of silence and the lights came on and it was all over. The band then all came together at the end of the walk way to take their final bow, which they thoroughly deserved.
Awesome stuff and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to go along and see such a huge concert. I won’t be forgetting this night for a long time. Many thanks to the Scorpions for being awesome, to all the technicians that made it possible – the video guys, the sound crew, the stage crew, managers, planners, drivers, security and everyone else. All the people behind the scene you never get to meet. And finally, a big thank you to Mark for getting me in. I am one very lucky man.