|Backstage with Scorpions lead guitarist Matthias Jabs at USANA Amphitheatre.|
Rock musicians tend to do scores of interviews when they are out on the road promoting a new album and tour, so I never assume that they will specifically remember one they did with me.
That, however, was not the case at the Scorpions’ “Get Your Sting and Blackout” farewell tour at USANA Amphitheatre in West Valley City. The concert may have been the band’s last in Utah – but it provided a first for me.
It’s the only time I can remember being openly mocked eye to eye by a rock star for a question asked in an earlier interview.
I had a 20-minute phone conversation with lead guitarist Matthias Jabs nearly two weeks before we met up backstage prior to the Scorpions’ Aug. 16 Utah date. (You can read the full interview here.) At the end of our earlier chat, I asked Jabs this question: “Of all the interviews that you’ve done over the years and the thousands of questions that you’ve been asked, what’s the one question you wish you would’ve been asked -- but never have been?”
He laughed and said the answer to that question probably doesn’t exist, essentially responding that he’d been asked every imaginable query over the years, and was holding nothing back.
|Klaus Meine and Matthias Jabs in concert. (Doug Fox)|
Admittedly, I was a little slow on the uptake. My first thought centered on the irony of him answering that to such an innocuous question considering what he’d answered in our original interview. I was still trying to wrap my head around his response when I noticed the slight smile on his face. That’s when I realized he was completely toying with me. I called him on it and we both had a good laugh over it.
I don’t know if Jabs simply remembered the earlier question because he’d never encountered a similar one – or maybe the band’s management had sent him the link to the full interview for him to review before our backstage meeting. Either way, I consider it an honor that it was memorable enough for him to take a good-natured run at me with it a couple weeks later. I mean, it could have been worse. (I’d hate to be remembered, for example, as the person who asked, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” during a much-mocked Super Bowl Media Day session.)
One aspect of concerts that’s always intrigued me is how bands develop their setlists. Why, for example, do certain songs seem to stick in the setlist, while other clearly fantastic tunes get dropped after a year or two, never to return? Having seen 13 Scorpions concerts on 10 different tours dating back to 1982, I can tell you that they are always going to play the songs “Blackout” and “Bad Boys Running Wild.” Now, I love those two songs, but neither was what you would consider a hit single. On the flip side, great rocking tunes like “Can’t Live Without You,” “Can’t Get Enough,” “Arizona” and “Wild Child” have all but been banished from the band’s live show. How does that happen?
|Rudolf Schenker in concert. (Doug Fox)|
I mentioned this to Jabs, pointing out how grateful I was that “Coast to Coast” had managed to stick in the live show all these years.
“It’s like a drum solo,” Jabs said. “We have to play it.”
But not for the reason one might think.
Besides it being a fun song to play every night, Jabs said the main reason it remains is it gives vocalist Klaus Meine a nice break early in the set. The rigors of worldwide touring, sometimes with four to five shows a week, can take a toll on a lead singer, so the band always includes “Coast to Coast” early in the set and a drum solo late as a benefit to Meine.
|Klaus Meine belts out a song. (Doug Fox)|
The problem with this being a farewell tour, he said, is that everybody wants you to come right away, so the band is trying to touch all its bases globally before more in-depth return visits.
Three hours after our backstage meeting, the Scorpions launched into “Coast to Coast” on stage, with Jabs and fellow guitarist Rudolf Schenker cranking out the intoxicating rhythm and trading off lead solo breaks. The crowd was fully involved, and experiencing it live – not to mention rib-rattling loud from my vantage point a mere two rows and a photo pit removed from the front speakers -- brought a big smile to my face. At one point early in the song, Jabs meandered over right in front of our location and recognized me in the crowd. He broke out in a huge grin and spontaneously pointed right at me as if to ask, “Yo ... how do you like your ‘Coast to Coast’ now?’ ”
Well done, apparently.
On top of that, I figure Matthias and I are now even – because that’s a question I’ve never been asked before.
Note: For the full concert review of the Scorpions show at USANA Amphitheatre, click here. To see video from the show, click on the following songs: "Loving You Sunday Morning," "Raised on Rock," "Blackout" and "Big City Nights."
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