My young friend, whom I mentor through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, likes hard rock music. When he mentioned he would like to see the Scorpions' "Final Sting" tour concert in nearby Grand Prairie some months ago, I got us tickets.
Last night I left work, picked him up at his house, and drove about 70 minutes to Grand Prairie. I took one wrong turn onto 35E, but fixed it in short order. To avoid expense and lines at the concert hall, we got our food at a QuikTrip. My taquito was surprisingly good, certainly better than a Burger King burger.
Concerts have changed a lot since I was a youth, and mostly for the better. They are no longer drenched in smoke. In my teens, the smoke was an acrid mix of marijuana and cigarette smoke. I am a life-long non-smoker, so that I found this smoke more than a bit unnecessary. In my 20s, marijuana had yielded to that odd concoction called the clove cigarette for those around at concerts like REM, 10,000 Maniacs, Echo and the Bunnymen or Guadalcanal Diary. Last night there was a distant smell of burning cannibis in the air, but in general the place was smoke-less. I am glad that the world has caught up to me, smokelessly speaking.
I was pleased last night that the camera/photo policy was enlightened "Small cameras only", they announced.
I am not good with my point and shoot in the dark without flash. I took a goodish set of pictures, but none really came out very well.
I liked the couple who sat in front of us (in our proper--and not "stadium", seating) Their rings indicated they were married, probably to each other. He had long hair braided into a long single braid, while his wife's artificial blonde hair pronounced that she was born to rock. Never mind about their age, though the screen saver that briefly flashed by on her smart phone did look suspiciously like a grandchild photo.
They left mid-way through the headliner, after singing along with the songs for the opening act.
The opening act was Tesla. This long-standing band from California is the kind of metal band who has songs you kind of know, even though you did not know you know them. They gave a great, 70s midwestern-barn-storming show, with great guitar solos, tunes which alternated between harder and more melodic, and a great charm in how they approached their work. I liked them very much. Their cover of "signs" was great, as well as the acoustic guitar sections. They seemed like good guys.
Then the Scorpions came out, with lots of appealing multi-media, drum kits on an elevating podium, and a great rapport with their audience. From the first riff to the last "rock you like a hurricane", it was a fun show.
The crowd varied from 16 to 60, with most folks seeming to be in their 30s. Most people knew most of the Scorpions lyrics, but I was not "most people". They had a graceful way of doing their final tour,
less tired or angry and more like old pros having a good time. I am dubious of "authentic" rock, that cultural dead end of so many inauthentic performers. The Scorpions were something I understand much better--large, comic-book, anthemic rock in which the showmanship is part of the fun.
Things I find odd:
1. though I am a firm believer that buying merch is very artist-friendly, and I had no hesitation buying my young friend a t-shirt, 35 dollars still seems like too much for a concert t-shirt, and 25 far too much for a baseball cap.
2. Concert hall architects have still not learned to design nearly enough restrooms.
3. Parking is far too expensive at concert halls.
4. The cost of attending this type of concert would buy a perfectly pleasant vacation to a modest
It's a good thing that I am a huge fan of indie ambient artists who do not tour, as I can have my musical experiences in free, 1 dollar, 7 dollar and 20 dollar dollops.
All in all, though, we had a great time, and I remembered what fun a melodic metal concert can be. My friend liked the shows, and it did not matter the bands were closer to my age than his. We had a good time.