The Scorpions with Whitesnake and Dokken at the Air Canada Centre (40 Bay), Saturday (March 15). $49.50. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Eighties stadium rock is enjoying something of a reinstatement in the lexicon of cool. It's done so, like everything else these days, with the aid of a heavy dose of irony, the pop culture rule being that it's all right to like what's not immediately acceptable as long as you're willing to laugh at it, and at yourself for liking it.
While there are diehard Scorpions, Whitesnake and Dokken fans out there, they tend to be relegated to strip-mall towns, suburbs and mockumentaries.
Hence, these bands are met with a mixture of their due respect and a shitload of ridicule. This may be the reason Whitesnake's David Coverdale isn't doing any interviews and why Dokken is playing so hard to get.
I did, however, get to speak very briefly to Mathias Jabs, lead guitarist for the Scorpions, but not before being warned to "stick to questions about their music and tour." The man who gives this warning proceeds to stay on the line and listen in on the interview.
The Scorpions hit it big in North America in the early 80s with Animal Magnetism and went on to become one of the most successful bands to come out of continental Europe. They scored with the 1990 political ballad Wind Of Change, but then, like most 80s rock bands, became sudden casualties of the alternative grunge takeover.
"I never liked that music," says Jabs on the phone from Boston, "I liked Nirvana but nothing that came after that. It was this depressing music, these heroin addicts singing all night about no future, then saying, "See you next year' at the end of the night."
Jabs likes positive things. He takes a second to tell me he's looking at the blue sky. He also likes Nickelback and Creed, as far as modern music goes.
"There are similarities to our music."
So do audiences come out just for nostalgia purposes?
"Yes, but there are people out there so young -- maybe 10 per cent of them are young -- that they can't be on a nostalgia trip. I think it's because so many bands out there are covering the music of bands like us."
As far as the differences between touring 15 years ago and today, Jabs says there really aren't many.
"We were never into trashing hotel rooms or anything like that. Maybe things are little different in terms of craziness, but it's very much the same."
Given that Scorpions singer Klaus Meine lists Still Crazy, a sort of nouveau Spinal Tap about pathetic aging rock stars, as one of his favourite films on the Scorpions Web site, it would seem that the mini-legends are not oblivious to the truth of their situation.
They've recently re-released three records, Lonesome Crow, Tokyo Tapes and Taken By Force, as well as a best-of featuring all your classic favourites and two new tracks, Cause I Love You and Bad For Good (the title track). Both are unremarkable.
And they'll soon record a full-length studio record.
"We've converted the back lounge of a bus into a studio so we can get some ideas and record a little bit," says Jabs. He doesn't reveal anything else about the record except that it'll be classic rock, even if it might be hard to get radio play for it.
"We are classic rock, and most radio stations don't play that. But a lot of things are changing, so you never know." firstname.lastname@example.org