Kremlin State Palace
Moscow, April 22, 2002
"The monsters of lyrical rock", as the site of the band's Russian fanclub refers to them, love Russia very much, and the country loves them, too. In fact, every world tour that Scorpions do includes a couple of shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Last spring the band played here with an orchestra, but the MetalKings.com team was so disappointed by the "Moment Of Glory" album that we ignored the event completely. However this time as Scorpions were going to make a half-acoustic set, we couldn't stay aside. Let me start the report with excerpts from the news conference that was held a few hours before the first show (Scorpions had two nights in Moscow this time). The news conference didn't attract as many media people as it happened with Deep Purple and Offspring, but there were enough interested persons and enough interesting questions.
Q: What are you going to do this year to celebrate 30 years of Scorpions? It's been 30 years since the release of your first album "Lonesome Crow".
Claus Meine: First of all, we are joined with our long-time producer Dieter Dierks, I think it's good news for the rock fans here in Russia. That's the producer who did such albums as "Lovedrive", "Blackout", "Love At First Sting". We went into the studio just recently and recorded a couple of new rock tracks. There's an album that comes out in America this summer to celebrate 30 years of Scorpions, and those new tracks are on this album. And of course, we celebrate 30 years of Scorpions with a big tour that takes us first to Russia, of course, we are very happy that we're back here and that we're playing tonight and tomorrow at the Kremlin Palace. Next month we will keep going, we will do a big tour in the United States, there will be more than 50 shows. It's a co-headliner package with Deep Purple and Ronnie James Dio as a special guest. The tour will take us all over the U.S., and that's our way of celebrating 30 years of Scorpions.
Q: The "Lonesome Crow" album has been mentioned here already. It is very different from what you did after that, both musically-wise and sound-wise. What influenced that record?
Rudolf Schenker: When we started as a band, we were really influenced by many different bands like Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pretty Things, Yardbirds, etc. But then we said to ourselves, "OK, we want to compose our own songs." We put all our ideas together, and "Lonesome Crow" came out. Later on, by having different musicians and making experiments we created our own style, and this style became really effective with the album "Lovedrive". I think that's when the Scorpions style was really born.
Q: "White Dove" is a cover version of Hungary's Omega. Why did you choose that song, how did you first meet the band and what are your current relations with them?
Claus: With Omega from Hungary we are friends. Exactly 10 years ago we were invited to Budapest, and they played one of their last concerts, like a farewell show, and we played some guest songs as guest musicians, we joined them onstage, and we liked one of their songs very much and decided to record it and come up with our own version. Our version is called "White Dove" and we made it a charity song for children.
Q: Do you still have time to communicate with former Scorpions members, I mean, Uli Roth, Francis Buchholz or Herman Rarebell?
Rudolf: Of course! We stay in touch, not with Francis but with the rest of those guys - Herman, Uli Roth, Mike (Schenker). We sometimes phone each other. I remember last year Uli had a Donnington festival to do, and he asked us to be a part of the show. We said yes in the first place, but then some other things came and he couldn't do it, but we'd like to stay together and on our next album we'd like to have Mike and Uli play on one song, they are open and we are open, they are still friends of ours, and that's good.
Q: Here's a question to James Kottack. Why did you leave Kingdom Come?
James: We started in 1987, and we stuck together until 1991. Our singer wanted to go one way and we wanted to go the other way, and it was that. But we've talked about maybe doing something in the off-season.
Q: This one's also to James. How's your other band Krunk doing? Is there an album out or something?
James: Krunk is my other band where I sing and play guitar. It's an outlet for me, it's songs that are totally unacceptable for the Scorpions. It's an outlet for myself and that's it, they've got one record out.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the "Wind Of Change" musical that you are planning to do in 2004. What style will it have and how are you planning to work on it?
Claus: Because of the song "Wind Of Change" and because of its influence on so many people in the East and in the West, the song stands as a symbol of freedom, it's an anthem for freedom, for all those political changes. So an idea came up to write a musical. We're in the middle of songwriting, and if everything works fine, this musical will be presented in Berlin in the spring of 2004. We write the music, we write songs, and "Wind Of Change" will be like a center piece of the musical. It will also feature some of the Scorpions songs, like "Still Loving You" for example, and other big Scorpions hits. Basically there will be 15 to 20 new songs that will be written for this musical. It will not be performed by the Scorpions.
After the news conference I had an opportunity to meet bass player Ralph Rieckermann eye to eye. In reply to my question about his reasons for not taking part in the recording of "Moment Of Glory", Ralph was very emotional. "Why do I get all the questions after the news conference?" he cried and answered only after I explained to him that the time for the news conference was limited and there was no way for reporters to ask all the questions they wanted. It turned out that Ralph's main occupation is making movies, and music was more of a hobby for him. That is why he was very busy during the recording of "Moment Of Glory" and had no time to show up in the studio. As to Claus, I approached him again about the relations between Omega and Scorpions and asked him whether Scorpions were planning to record another Omega song, for Omega is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the band's establishment this year. To this Claus replied that Scorpions had already done an Omega song and it was now time for Omega to do a Scorpions song.
Now let's pass on to the show, which can easily be called a show of logic. As I expected, most of the audience was made up by young people. Thus, it was logical that they all bought cheap seats and five minutes before the beginning of the gig only a small share of seats on the floor was occupied. The administration made the only logical step - they opened doors and invited people from the balconies on the floor. Finally everybody took a seat and the show began. It was obvious from the smooth start that even though it is the fourth time Scorpions are playing in Moscow, they still enjoy what they do. The musicians were running around the stage, jumping, assuming "true metal poses" and doing their best to entertain the public. And the public responded immediately, people were singing along, shouting, waving cigarette lighters and clapping hands as loud and enthusiastically as it was possible in a place like the Kremlin Palace. But let me elaborate on this issue a little bit later.
The show had three parts in it - first an electric part, then acoustics and then some electricity again, which I consider justified, for unprepared people in the audience never had enough time to get bored. However, there were very few unprepared people in the audience, mostly those who came because the band was "fashionable" and their gig "prestigious" to attend. The rest were having as much fun as they could, for the set list was compiled to pleas nearly everybody. The show started with the powerful "Loving You Sunday Morning"; "Bad Boys Running Wild" and "The Zoo" followed immediately without any breaks. During "The Zoo" Claus was running from one side of the stage to another, throwing drum sticks in the audience; he had so many sticks that I got an impression that Scorpions were expecting to see a Siberian winter upon arrival in Russia and therefore brought some firewood with them. The acoustic section opened with a great selection of ballads including "Always Somewhere", "You And I", "Holiday" and even a cover of "Dust In The Wind" preceded by an announcement by Claus who said that Scorpions did not do covers very often, but this was an exception. Another treat was an oldie called "Catch Your Train" in a rearranged variant that is quite rarely performed live. There were two drum sets on stage during the acoustic section, which added a new taste to old and familiar songs. And of course, if there is a rifle on stage, it's got to shoot by the end of the play, and the two drummers couldn't but make a jam, raising cheers from the audience. This was the end of the acoustic section, and after that the band reappeared on the stage with more familiar instruments.
The third section began with "Tease Me Please Me" from the "Crazy World" album, and the fans could not stay in their seats any longer (IMHO it's a nonsense to sit during a rock show). They started to fill narrow passages on the floor, jumping and headbanging to a few more hits of various ages complemented with two solos - Matthias Jabs on the guitar and James Kottack on the drums once again. James ended his performance by climbing on top of his drum set and tearing off his T-shirt, which was loudly welcomed by the audience. Having played "Blackout", the musicians went backstage, but the lights were not yet on, and the people realized that it was not the end. A few minutes later the band returned to play three more classics that are performed every time, at least in Russia - I mean, "Still Loving You", "Wind Of Change" and "Rock You Like A Hurricane".
The show lasted for almost two hours, but it felt like only a few minutes, for the musicians did their best and were honest in their performance. Many people dislike the experimental nature of the last two or three Scorpions' albums, but the Moscow gig convinced everybody in the audience that "the monsters of lyrical rock" still rule live, and there is no one to beat them among veterans of the hard rock scene.
P.S. Unfortunately, not everything was that nice. Many people, me included, left the venue mumbling curses, but not at the band, but at the so-called security guards. It may not be a problem that every girl who got a bad idea to bring flowers to the show (mostly they were aged 14 to 20) was told by angry-looking guards that they were allowed to give the flowers to the band only after the end of the final song. It may not be a problem when the same people with the same expression on their faces were ordering the girls at the end of the show not to give flowers to the musicians but to lay them on the edge of the stage and leave at once. But caddish and animal-like behavior of guards in front of the stage is by any means a problem. Have you ever seen an angered wild aper? If no, you should have been in the Kremlin Palace on that night to see a few of them. Imagine something remotely resembling a human (only because being dressed in a uniform) that is running alongside the stage on its knees pushing aside everyone who dares to give flowers to the musicians. I remember Claus singing and holding flowers in one hand and trying to reach the fans with the other, but to no avail for a cop would show up right there immediately and push the poor girl back as hard as he could, and if the girl dared not to step back, she would be hit with a fist on her leg or maybe higher… Other "unruly" fans were nipped or scratched, after all, it was necessary to protect the band from dangerous people, and all methods worked… Even if you enjoyed the show immensely, seeing or suffering such treatment could mar the most positive impression. Here is my word to promoters: please, for God's sake, FIND OTHER PEOPLE TO GUARD THE SHOW! I don't think that any of the girls treated so nicely by the police would show up at another concert like that.
You Sunday Morning
2. Bad Boys Running Wild
3. The Zoo
4. Is There Anybody There
5. Always Somewhere
6. You And I
8. When Love Kills Love
9. Dust In The Wind
10. Send Me An Angel
11. Catch Your Train
12. Rhythm Of Love
13. Double drum solo
14. Tease Me Please Me
15. Matthias Jabs solo
16. Big City Nights
18. James Kottack solo
20.Still Loving You
21.Wind Of Change
22.Rock You Like A Hurricane
Translated into English by Maniac
Special thanks to Margarita Nekrasova (SAV Entertainment) for accreditation
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