Photography by Haitham Dinawi

Rock icons, Scorpions, made their way back to Lebanon to play two shows at the Byblos International Festival, making it 5 shows in Lebanon in 2 years, a grand total of 6! Metality sent out guest writer, Rani Nasr, and photographer, Haitham Dinawi to the historical coastal city of Byblos for an exclusive review of the show here on Metality. Rani concludes that the show was "an answer to the existential question of rock n' roll's relevance". 

The Scorpions Live at the Byblos International Festival:
An Answer to the Existential Question of Rock & Roll’s Relevance!

It’s not really easy to know what to expect when you go see a concert for 80s rock n’roll icons, Scorpions. They have been kicking mean ass since 1965, but it’s 2013 now and what used to be ass kicking is now maybe a bit cheesy by today’s standards. Not all music survives the test of time. I grew up listening to Scorpions but you know how music taste evolves, and I just wasn’t there anymore…or so I thought.

I went to the Scorpions concert in the beautiful northern Lebanese coastal city of Byblos on July 27th. The entertainment started even before the show. I have been to many shows, but never in my life have I seen such a diverse crowd. I saw a teenage couple (about 16 years-old) hug with the boy asking, “Can I kiss you when they play Still Lovin’ You?”. I also saw an older couple (about 50 years-old) hug and smile in a very kinky way; it was obvious that they used to make love to Scorpions and they’re here to relive those mighty orgasms. And, of course, the rest of the judgemental bastards standing in the corner with their arms crossed…that’s where I felt at home.

Without any warning, drummer James Kottack climbs up his drumset and starts pounding it until Mattias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker join him with the opening riff of ‘Sting in The Tail’ followed by the unmistakable voice Klaus Meine ...and the Scorpions were on! Leather pants, leather vests, Explorers and Flying Vs, badass duckfaces with full throttle guitar riffs! After you get over the semantics, the Scorpions will definitely take you back to a time where Rock and Roll was still relevant!

Photography by Haitham Dinawi
The band that started 48 years ago is still as solid as a sharp metal axe! Fists in the air, the crowd sang along with every word, some even headbanging. The band went through their setlist the way they did hundreds of times before, flawlessly rocking every note with classics like ‘Make it Real’, ‘Is there Anybody There?’ and ‘The Zoo’. The two guitarists showed their high caliber musicianship and chemistry, feeding off each other over the instrumental ‘Coast to Coast’. You can easily tell they’ve been playing together for 30 years. The band then surprised the audience with an acoustic rendition of ‘You and I’. However, they did not give up on the Explorer or the Flying V guitars, for which they had acoustic versions of as well. I know what you’re thinking, that’s goofy, why would anyone play an acoustic Flying V? Well it kind of is, but they are the Scorpions, so fuck you!

It wouldn’t be a real rock concert without the Kottack’s insane drum solos! Accompanied by a dark, humourous, and creepy video, Kottack goes wild on his drumset reminding us of the likes of Dream Theater’s Mike Portnoy. The band returns to play a triumphant version of Blackout and a full venue singalong of Big City Nights where Meine barely had to put the microphone to his mouth. The crowd did the singing for him.

The band said their good nights and left the stage. This was my most entertaining point in the night. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert or any other kind of concert, you have probably heard of the concept of an ‘encore’. The band did not play their 3 biggest songs yet, so it was kinda obvious there was one. That wasn’t as obvious for everyone there though, there was a huge wave of rants, angry screams, and curses of people pissed because they hadn’t played Wind of Change or Still Loving You. “THIS IS BULLSHIT”, “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT, I PAID 60 DOLLARS!!” Seconds later the crowd went into the hipnotic chanting of ‘We Want More’ bringing the Scorpions back to the stage, who did not disappoint with their powerful ballad performance and ending the concert with Rock You Like A Hurricane with everyone screaming their lungs out to the chorus: “HERE I AM .. ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE!”...and they did indeed.

Photography by Haitham Dinawi

The Scorpions were everything you wanted them to be. Meine did not miss a single note; on the contrary, he took the place apart with his impeccable voice. Jabs’ and Schenker’s guitar work was powerful, present and right there in your face. As for Kottack, the craziest of the bunch, he lived up to his full back tattoo motto: ‘Rock & Roll Forever’. A bit underrated and overlooked due to the performances around him, but bassist Pawel Maciwoda is the drive and locomotive of the band. He is like a pillar holding the Scorpions steel structure together.

The band declared that this was their last world tour but we’ve heard the same thing 2 years ago. Will they be back? We don’t know, but if they are we’re gonna be there again for sure!

Follow Rani Nasr on Twitter @ranithefirstMetality would like to thank Rani Nasr and Haitham Dinawi for their excellent contributions, as well as the organizers at Byblos International Festival.  We'd also like to give a special mention to Fida Chaaban, Editor-in-Chief of Lebanon's RagMag

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