Monday, 31 March 2014

The Love Affair Between Scorpions And Greece

To be fair, Greece has a "love affair" with a few other groups as well. The most common example,(after Scorpions) is Puressence (now disbanded). Then it's James, followed by Placebo, even Depeche Mode. All these bands visit Greece on every one of their tours. And if, in the case of Depeche Mode, it can be said that they are popular all over the world, Puressence only have such a big fanbase in Greece (They even used a Greek model on the cover of their latest compilation album). And Scorpions of course. When they were asked to do an "MTV Unplugged" show they immediately asked to do it in Greece. They knew that in no other country would they sell so many tickets, even in the midst of a recession.
So how did this happen? I will try to explain it from my own point of view, they way I've experienced it through my teenage years at school. This was in the 80's (and please put your calculators away). Now school kids in those days would listen to different kinds of music, although Greek music wasn't as popular in those ages as it is now. Disco had been out of fashion several years before, so it wasn't a case of a "rock - disco" rivalry. Probably more of a "rock - pop" rivalry, or a "hard rock - pop" one. Scorpions were considered to be "hard rock" or even "heavy metal" by the Greek teenagers of that era. And there were those who would listen to music from both genres but only one was considered "serious music". So what was considered "serious music" back then? Well, definitely rock, not pop, and only certain groups. Number 1 on the "seriousness" category were The Doors. This was supposed to be because of "the messages" carried in their lyrics, but then again it could be because Jim Morrison was such a big hunk (Well, most of their fans were girls, so I rest my case). Scorpions did not have these big "messages" in their lyrics like The Doors but their lyrics (especially on their slow songs) were all about LOVE and that was enough to make teenage girls weak at the knees. And it was their slow songs that were most popular. Think : "Always somewhere...I'll be back to love you again..." (Everybody now : "Aaaahhhhh!"). Now, what about us boys? Well, those of us who were rock fans would rather listen to AC/DC, Motorhead and Iron Maiden, but Scorpions was the only chance for us to dance "the blues" at parties. So, what do The Scorpions have to do with the blues? Nothing. Neither did Bonnie Tyler or George Michael for that matter. But somewhere along the line something was lost in translation and slow songs of any kind came to be known as "the blues" among teenage Greeks. So, even if we didn't like the Scorpions, WE HAD TO LIKE THEM, because this was our only chance to dance close at parties with a girl ("close" meaning "touching").
Well, all those years later, those teenage boys and girls have grown up, most of them have their own families and responsibilities, many of them probably don't listen to music anymore (well, certainly not rock music) but when they hear that "Scorpions are coming to Greece" something seems to move inside them and they rush out to buy tickets.
So the Scorpions keep on coming to Greece. Somehow though, I always missed them. Even in the 90's when I was studying in Britain, they came for a UK tour and my Greek fellow students asked me to go with them but I couldn't for some reason (Probably I didn't have enough money). Finally in 2006 I decided to go when they came to Athens to play together with Whitesnake (and I must admit I enjoyed Whitesnake more). Well, I thought I was done with them.

The only thing bugging me was that they did not play any songs from their early years with Uli Jon Roth (eg songs like "Pictured Life" and "In Trance"). The next year, 2007, they came again, and they did play songs from that era, but I was abroad to see The Rolling Stones.
Finally, 4 years ago they announced that they were finally disbanding and that they would come to Athens for one final concert. Some friends wanted to go, so I went with them, but once again they did not play anything from their early years.

While waiting in line to get in the venue, I was handed a flyer announcing that Uli Jon Roth was coming with his own band, so I went to that one as well and finally got to hear those songs.

We all know what happened next. They decided not to disband and they came for 3(!) MTV Unplugged dates (And all 3 were sold out). So why did I go? Well, probably because I thought it would be something different playing with acoustic instruments and several guests (one of them was Morten Harket, the singer from A-Ha singing on "Wind Of Change" but I did not recognize him after all these years), probably because the show would be later released on DVD and I would have a souvenir, probably it was just a "WTF?" factor.

MVI_1642 από papdx
But I did go in the end and in a way I was glad because they finally played "Pictured Life" and "In Trance" in my presence...