Too Much of a Good Thing (About fandom)

There are fans…and then there are fans.

I’m one of those fans when it comes to the Scorpions. (Yes, the mostly German band that is currently touring for their 50th anniversary.) I have been following this group since I saw them on TV performing at the US Festival in the early eighties.

I will be the first to admit that in the past few years that I have used them as an excuse to travel the world and without them I would not have gone to so many places. Their music made me smile when I was sad and can still bring me out from the dark places I find myself in. In fact, we played one of their songs at my own mother’s funeral as they carried her casket away. (She was a fan too.)

Lets face it – if I have to admit something else, I have probably seen them too many times in the past years. To the point where they might just know my name or what country I hail from (maybe). They are good to their fans, even the fanatics (the more extreme version of me). Their live shows are addictive and there is an energy that they give that is hard to get enough of.

Unfortunately, it does seem I have had enough.

From May 13th – May 21st, one of my favorite bands did their first “mini” residency at Hard Rock’s The Joint in Las Vegas. They called it “Blacked Out in Vegas” and hyped it up to be something special. It was special – in the sense that there were huge advertisements in purely Vegas style everywhere. There would be 5 shows and I would end up going to 4 of them in the end.

Now realize – I know and love this band. I have seen them many times in North America and Europe. Their most recent tour is to celebrate or possibly commemorate their 50th anniversary and that’s no small thing. Their North American set list is as solid as it could get – from favorite hits to a 70s medley that at least acknowledges that era from the band. I repeat: It’s a damn good set list. But…(you knew that was coming.)

They did not deviate one little bit from their set list for all 5 shows in Las Vegas 2016. Not one note. You see, they played in October 2015 at the very same venue (and ironically with the same opening band: Queensryche) and yup, the same exact set list. How did no one point this out to them? How did anyone think this was acceptable? The band, the entourage, the publicists and of course the fans?

The songs were played and sung perfectly. It was as cookie cutter and professional as they could be for rock and roll stars. They pranced, they smiled and they did what they do best – perform live. Even if a portion of the band is now in their sixties – they still bring their A game to the stage. Or do they? No offense to one of my favorite bands of all time, but how is it that everything was the same? The only notable difference was either a wardrobe change or one of the members moved to another part of the stage. Oh boy that was exciting let me tell you…

Since they just played The Joint in October 2015 plus the 5 shows last week. It makes me wonder how many in the audience have not seen the show at all (in person, not online). On a good night, I would say that 60% of the audience has seen the current show since – lets face it, the same location and the same set list as last year’s North American tour? The Scorpions are not gaining a huge amount of younger/newer fans in this part of the world that I can tell. So they are playing to a good portion of fans who might have already seen this particular show. Great show – yes it was. Was it necessary to repeat the same thing – song by song, footstep by footstep? I mean during their 70s medley the lead singer says “Here are some songs we haven’t played in awhile” (not a direct quote) – but when they played them last night, last week or last year, how is that cool?

Recently due to health problems of their longtime drummer James Kottak, they got a replacement by the likes of Motorhead’s Mikkey Dee. So many fans say, “Oh he probably did not have time to learn the songs.” Seriously? That would be an insult to Mikkey Dee, I’m sure he is a better drummer than that. I’m positive of it.

Then of course old time fans will say, “What do you expect? They never change their set list.” Well – this isn’t true. They do. For instance if they play in North America they will almost always play “No One Like You” the hit that got them recognition here. However, the Europeans rarely get to hear that song be played and they want to hear it over there. Sometimes they will play “We’ll Burn The Sky” in Europe and I have yet to hear that played on North American shores. These are just example of what I’ve seen in my travels.

With that comes the opinion that, “You’ve just seen the show too many times.” Well, this I cannot disagree with. I don’t think I have read anywhere that they say that “Warning: This show should only be seen four or less times to get the best feeling from it.”  I have seen the show too many times, but that doesn’t mean I can’t hope for something different at some point. Oh hey they will play 5 dates in Las Vegas, they advertised it everywhere and called it “Blacked Out in Vegas.”  It wasn’t the 50th Anniversary tour like last year. It was marketed as different.

Maybe I’m just insulted because I feel like I was betrayed by one of my favorite bands that could not and would not change their set list for anything. I wish they had put in a caveat to only go to one of the shows since they would all be the same. I would have saved a lot of time and money.

Luckily for me, I have some damn good friends from around the country and the world who joined me there in Las Vegas and even though the shows were good yet very predictable, a good time was had anyways.

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