Live In Munich 2012 (DVD)

Scorpions

Eagle Vision, 2016

http://www.the-scorpions.com/

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/23/2016

“Never change.”

It’s a comment that’s usually delivered with a fair dose of snark, as in, the person saying it knows the object of their comment never will, despite the fact that maybe they need to.

But if they don’t need to? Well, then.

Back in my head-banging days, the Scorpions were a major constellation in my personal night sky. Between home and car, their 1979 album Lovedrive earned a couple of hundred spins over its first two years in play, simply one of the era’s best examples of melodic hard rock, featuring dynamic guitar riffage, thunderous rhythm sections and one singalong chorus after another, from driving rockers to sprawling power ballads.

Fast forward 30-odd years to 2012 and the boys—still anchored by founder Rudolf Schenker (rhythm/lead guitar), frontman Klaus Meine (vocals) and ace guitar-slinger Matthias Jabs (lead/rhythm guitar), along with Pawel Maciwoda (bass) and James Kottak (drums)—have a road case full of radio hits and a lot of mileage under their belts, but seemingly haven’t lost a step. The 2012 tour was in fact originally announced as a farewell tour, and who could blame them—hard rock is a young man’s game, and the aforementioned big three aren’t wearing hats these days to keep the sun out of their eyes—but they had so much fun, and sold so many tickets, that they’ve continued to tour and record sporadically beyond their announced end date.

Said end date was in fact the show captured here—Munich 2012, the last date of their “farewell” tour, back at home in their native Germany. The band is in fine form, playing out in a huge arena on a massive stage featuring a telescoping drum riser, metallic finishes, and enough vertical flame jets to make a pyromaniac drool.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The setlist for this energetic evening offers everything you would expect—a handful of newer tunes, opening with the raucous title track of their supposedly final album Sting In The Tail, mixed in with 35 years’ worth of hits and a handful of deeper tracks. Early highlights include a ringing, energetic “Loving You Sunday Morning” and a stellar, fiery “Coast To Coast” (featuring Schenker taking a rare solo), two of the best cuts from the aforementioned Lovedrive.

It’s inevitable fun watching these middle-aged veterans of the scene ignite arena-wide singalongs, whether on well-loved early tunes like “We’ll Burn The Sky” or newer cuts like “The Best Is Yet To Come.” This is a band that’s never lost its songwriting touch; they’ve always had a disciplined approach to building songs around sturdy hooks, fiery solos, and choruses that stick in your head. Their ballads are, if anything, even more craftsmanlike; “Send Me An Angel” and “Holiday” (both featuring gorgeous dueling acoustic guitars) are virtual prototypes for what a hard-rocking band’s ballads should sound like—billowy, emotional, and inescapably melodic.

The second half of the show delivers hit after hit, working backwards from newer tune “Raised On Rock” through “Tease Me, Please Me,” “Blackout,” “Big City Nights,” “Still Loving You,” the moving “Wind Of Change” (with footage of the Berlin Wall’s fall playing above them as the crowd sings along), a stomping “No One Like You,” and the inevitable “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” It’s a genuinely impressive catalog of melodic hard rock, and the Scorps deliver it with the energy and enthusiasm of men half their age, Schenker doing spins while churning out the core riffs powering each song as Jabs fires off solo after deliciously nimble solo. Amazingly, the 64-year-old Meine’s distinctive, keening voice sounds better than ever. (Side note: Kottak also delivers an absurdly long and utterly pointless drum solo / bathroom break, that hoariest and most unnecessary of hard rock clichés.)

The direction and cinematography of this concert film is solid throughout—much like the band itself, there’s nothing terribly unusual or creative, just sharp HD footage from multiple cameras that’s been professionally edited and brims with fun shots capturing the band’s, and the crowd’s, enthusiasm for the moment. Live In Munich 2012 might not win any awards, but it skillfully documents one of radio metal’s original ’70s champions still going strong, bringing their internationally recognizable sound back home to an adoring crowd that eats up every slashing riff and sings along to every infectious chorus.

Rating: B+

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