The Scorpions, Great White and Mr. Big invaded Park West Saturday night, and if the thousands of hand-clapping, dancing and singing fans are a legitimate barometer, the invasion was successful.
But first, a confession. I did not go to Saturday's concert because I am a big fan of any of the above mentioned groups. Prior to volunteering for this review (with major prodding from my 16-year-old son) I don't think I had knowingly listened to a complete album by any of these groups. With four teenagers in the house, though, it's hard to know for sure. After accepting, I did listen to several tapes and a couple CDs to get a feel for the music. And, an interview with guitarist Rudolf Schenker helped me gain insight into the personality of the Scorpions.
I will also confess to being a child of the 60s whose rock 'n' roll tastes are honed by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and other groups of the British Invasion. On the American scene, there were the Doors, Iron Butterfly, Spirit, Buffalo Springfield and the Rascals (albeit the Young Rascals back then).
In later years, there were Styx, Fleetwood Mac, ELO and Chicago. And, I will admit, I have developed a liking for Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Europe.
So where do the Scorpions and Great White fit into this mix? It's hard to say. The driving intensity of the two groups is unlike most of the groups I listened to growing up. ZZ Top and Led Zepplin are probably the closest to this sound from my era. My son thoroughly enjoyed both bands but was upset that the massive traffic jam leading into Park West prevented us from reaching our seats in time to give Mr. Big a listen and include them in this review.
Without question, the Scorpions carried the night. Their 90-minute set included 17 songs capped off by a four-song encore. It was basically a non-stop performance with little time wasted on empty chit-chat with the audience. Not that there wasn't a rapport, however.
Lead singer Klaus Meine gave the crowd ample opportunity to join in and even conducted a mini sing-off between the right, left and middle sections. And there was a good mix of songs spanning the group's 18-year history to go with the new cuts off the group's new album.
For me, the highlight of the night was the ballad "Winds of Change," which has skyrocketed on most European charts and is currently making a run in the United States. Its call for improved relations between East and West is especially timely.
The band got things going with "Tease Me, Please Me" and added renditions of "Call It Love," "Hit Between the Eyes," "The Zoo," "I Can't Explain," "Don't Believe Her" and "Can't Live Without Her." Included in the encore were classics "Big City Lights" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane."
But take nothing away from Great White. The Jack Russell-led quintet packed 10 solid cuts into a 45-minute set and did a good job of getting the audience into a party mood. A lot of credit has to go to lead guitarist Al Petrelli who was filling in for the ailing Mark Kendall. His runs were first rate and those not familiar with Great White's personnel would not likely have known Kendall was missing had Russell not made mention of the fact.
The set included "Lets Call It Rock and Roll" for openers and also included "The Original Queen of Sheba" and "Can't Shake It." And, if the band hadn't included "Twice Shy," the fans would have been more than twice disappointed.