Tuesday, July 2, 2002 @ 9:31 AM
Dio, Purple & The Scorps Rock
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REVIEW BY: JB
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What a special time I had last night in Cincinnati Ohio at the Dio/Scorpions/Deep Purple concert. I can hardly remember the ride home because I was so overcome by the experience. Any body who thinks these bands are washed-up old farts have obviously not seen them live... I am so absolutely floored by the concert because all three bands had at least two different members in place of a couple of the originals. But with the way all three came off on stage it just might possibly be for the better. Words can't express how impressed I am by all three bands. I'm not lamenting the fact that there was no huge arena-ish productions because they more than made up for it in performance and personal charisma.
I guess it is needless to say that at the point these bands' careers are at now all three bands did basically what amounted to a 'greatest hits' set. None of the bands did more than one song from anytime in the last 10 years. If there's one criticism I would have about the show was that it would've been nice to see the bands play at least 3 other 'recent' songs. But, regardless, it was pure magic last night.
First up was Dio... Out came Ronnie. Standing approx. 5 foot 2 in boots, but 30 feet in aura. If there's one rocker from back in the day that hasn't changed one bit it is Ronnie (he always has looked old) and his voice has never lost anything. It was like being transported back to the Holy Diver through Sacred Heart glory days. Jimmy Bain is back on bass laying down solid bone-crunching grooves (but, man, he sure looks weather-beaten these days). The drummer was Simon Wright who replaced Rudd in AC/DC during the mid and late ‘80s. Guitarist was a newcomer named Doug Aldrich. Doug is the most Vivian-ish of any of the guitarists that Ronnie has worked with since losing Vivian. He looks like the spitting image of Glen Buxton. On keyboards was Scott Warren who played in the later version of Warrant in the mid ‘90s that recorded the Ultraphobic LP.
The set opened with what I thought would be the encore..."Rainbow In The Dark." Next came “Stand Up And Shout”... then a drum solo which came off rather typical, meaning it was good, but nothing I haven't come to expect. After that was a killer song from his new LP, then “Holy Diver” and then Doug's guitar solo. It had a lot of flash but done with a lot of taste. Sort of like what I'd imagine Vivian would've done with maybe a pinch of Gary Hoey. After that they launched into Rainbow's "Man On the Silver Mountain" and "Long Live Rock'n'Roll" done as a medley exactly how it was on The Last In Live LP, even right down to the breakdown in “Long Live Rock'n'Roll,” when Ronnie gets the crowd to sing along -- EXACTLY the same. As a matter of fact, when the sing along started Ronnie said, "We've been doing this for so many years, I don't need to tell you what to do." I guess this means this is pretty routine for Ronnie. If it's routine I sure wish every band would do their routine as exuberant as Ronnie did.
After that came “Heaven And Hell,” and another sing-along. And then, the encore – “Last In Line.” Dio's set was astonishing and seemed like a celebration of the mystical powers of hard rock (even though the set list does admittedly seem to reek of 'resting on your laurels'...I mean, just about the biggest part of the set was Holy Diver material, one Last In Line song, two acknowledgements to pre-Dio... and only one new song). Oh well, I guess it's obvious that's the material that will always keep Ronnie's bread buttered. But since this was the first time I've ever seen Dio, I was very happy to finally see the classics done live.
Next up was Scorpions. Before the band came out they played a recording of the orchestral intro to “Rock You Like A Hurricane” from the orchestral Scorpions CD. There was no announcement; just the beginning of that orchestral piece and it startled everybody. Scorps ran out on stage and launched into some brief quick intro song that had the same purpose as "Hello There" by Cheap Trick and then launched into "Bad Boys Running Wild." I forget the exact running order and there was one recent song that I can't think of the name of (though I know it's not anything from Eye II Eye). "Big City Nights," "Tease Me, Please Me" (man, did that sound killer and ferocious live!), “No One Like You,” “The Zoo” (complete with Jabs' talk-box solo), “Blackout” ...various other songs from their ‘80s LP's, but I can't think of the titles right now.
They encored with “Still Loving You,” which drew a HUGE response (like just about the entire set did) and, of course, “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” Now, when it comes to charisma, Scorpions had the most at the concert. They were so damn fun to watch. Especially guitarist Matthias Jabs. He had more charisma than Klause and anybody else. He was really, really into this. All the other guys were but he was REALLY into it. Matthias always kept acknowledging the audience with facial expressions and was very outgoing with the crowd. He always had a boyish grin on his face. He was so happy to be there… and it showed in his playing. He played like a mofo! His solo and how he executed it on stage is a sight I'll never forget. So full of life. At one point he hit a high note and just happened to have the neck of his guitar pointed upward. Everybody started looking up at the ceiling like they were expecting some Ace Frehley type of trick to be pulled.
During solos in songs, he would make various goofy body and hand gestures to compliment the guitar sound. Scorpions drummer for the last few years has been James Kottak, formerly of Kingdom Come, and the same later version of Warrant that Scott Warren was in (drumming on Ultraphobic). This guy matched Matthias in stage presence! He's a combination of a drummer and a comedian. He just oozed with personality and kept the crowd on their toes. During his drum solo he got each side of the audience into a scream contest. After it was over he picked up a beer bottle, drank a toast to us and then broke the bottle over his head letting the rest of the beer run all over him and picked up his sticks and continued with his solo.
Rudolf Schenker: He dazzled the crowd by running out after James' drum solo and starting the riff to “Blackout” by dressing up like how he was on the cover of Blackout (white thing wrapped around his head with fake mustache so he could look just like how he did on the cover.) He was jumping all over the stage and jumped up on the drum riser. He was really rocking out. Klause Meine is and always will be one of the golden throats of HR, and he proved it again at this concert. He even played rhythm guitar on an instrumental section of the concert and he along with Rudolf, Matthias and the bass player (we'll get to him in a minute) were all bunched up together in the front of the stage rocking on the same riff in a spiritual show of unity that raised the crowd to higher fits of yelling. During "The Zoo," Klause was hitting a cowbell and had a bunch of drumsticks with him. He's hit the cowbell a few times with a stick and then throw it out to the audience (he threw a bunch out during the course of the concert) and one landed on a lady sitting three seat down from me. She was an older kind of lady and she wasn't into this thing at all. Klaus' drumstick landing right in her cup of beer splashing it on her. A sight I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
As for the bass player, he laid down a solid groove but he had the personality and stage presence of the guy who replaced Alec Jon Such in Bon Jovi. I've never seen anybody stick out like a soar thumb due to lack of stage presence. He looked like he should be playing in a nu-metal band. He looked just like Kid Rock...
Next up was Deep Purple with Don Airey on keyboards. Let me just say that this version of Deep Purple will absolutely blow away any young band out there. I am now a staunch supporter of Steve Morse. He blew me away. All the drama and excitement that Blackmore created with feedback and other tricks, Steve got just out of sheer fretboard wizardry! It is right up there with Blackmore on Made In Japa! A lot of people have raved about Morse and how it seems Blackmore was holding them back for many years...I BELIEVE IT NOW! You can tell all the band members have a great bond with Morse and they show it on stage. They're all running around up there with big smiles on their faces playing with the ferociousness not seen since Made In Japan. Gillan and Morse are always high-fiving each other and joking around. During “Highway Star,” even dull ol' Roger Glover got fired up and stood in front of the stage with Morse and slung their heads and backs in synchronization during a few of the upbeat chords in the chorus. Even Glover was showing signs of life!
Ian Paice was of course slicing and dicing everything around with his drumming! Oddly, he didn't do a drum solo. Morse had a solo (plus all the soloing he did in the songs) and Airey had a keyboard solo (where he even worked in a bit of the theme to Star Wars), which of course led up to “Lazy.” Gillan was in fine form -- not even drunk, and he was so outgoing with the audience and so good natured. He looked like a man content up there. Playful as he could be... and he can still scream better than practically anybody else in rock'n'roll. He had balls of steel last night.
The set list was:
Some new song....
Woman From Tokyo
Knockin' At Your Back Door
Smoke On The Water