CULTURE

Scorpions to rock Athens again

What if they have played in Athens three years in a row? Germany’s legendary hard-rock band the Scorpions will hit town once more for yet another performance at the Karaiskaki Stadium on June 18, equipped with a brand-new album. This time, the show promises to be different: the act will be inaugurating its very first Scorpions Festival, where it will be joined by acclaimed seasoned artist Joe Cocker as well as Juliette and the Licks – actress Juliette Lewis’s rock band – and a young local band, selected through a competition. «It feels great to be back on stage and play new songs to an audience,» said the band’s vocalist Klaus Meine at a recent press conference. The room was packed with journalists from all over Greece, many of whom had brought along old Scorpions albums, even vinyls, to have them signed by the singer. «We have a special relationship with our fans in Greece,» said Meine, who went on to describe the Greek audience as «emotional and wild.» «It is nice to give something back to our fans by giving the opportunity to a young talent to play in front of a big audience.» Out of the three local bands that made it to the final round of the competition – Casus Belli, Hannibal and Planet Zero – Meine selected Hannibal, after listening to all three play at the Stavros tou Notou music venue. Little needs to be said about Germany’s most famous rockers, who have been going on steadily since the release of their first album in the early 70s. Powerful hits such as «Rock You Like a Hurricane» and «No One Like You,» but also melodic ballads such as «Holiday» and the ever-popular «Wind of Change» turned them into rock icons. «Even at my age I know ‘The Wind of Change,’» said German Ambassador in Greece Wolfgang Schultheiss, who was present at the press conference. He added that the festival, which falls under the aegis of the German Embassy, will also inaugurate the Weeks of German Culture, a series of events promoting various aspects of the German way of life. The eccentric Woodstock veteran Joe Cocker needs no introduction either. His career may have gone through numerous rough patches, mostly due to his battle against alcohol and drugs, but his unique and highly distinctive voice has produced timeless hits like «Unchain my Heart» and «You Can Leave your Hat On.» Following a very successful Hollywood career, with memorable performances in films such as Oliver Stone’s «Natural Born Killers» and Martin Scorsese’s «Cape Fear» alongside Robert De Niro, actress Juliette Lewis felt drawn to music and formed Juliette and the Licks in 2003. So far, the rock band has performed in 20 different countries, alongside Social Distortion, Courtney Love and Turbonegro and has also teamed up with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. Neither Joe Cocker nor Juliette and the Licks will be making mere guest appearances. It looks like the festival will turn into an all-night event and Cocker is scheduled to perform for an hour and a half, accompanied by a big band and a group of female backup singers. Yet another highlight is that the Scorpions will be reuniting on stage with their former guitarist Uli Jon Roth, promising their older fans a journey back to the group’s early days. Meine pointed out that they will not be playing all of their older songs, as there is material they just don’t touch anymore for different reasons. «We will start with songs from the new record, but of course we will also be playing all the classics. We will take you through the history of the Scorpions, it will be a very long show.» The Scorpions’ new album, «Humanity – Hour I,» a collaboration with well-known producer and songwriter Desmond Child, is scheduled for official release today. «The songs are connected by the global theme of humanity. As artists we will never stop believing that we can make a change all together, if we reach out especially to the young generation. We hope the world can become a more peaceful place,» said Meine. He explained that the album cover, which features a cyborg, half-human, half-machine, represents the band which is walking on the edge and does not know what the future holds. The band met up with Child, who has collaborated with the likes of Aerosmith, Kiss, Bon Jovi and Meatloaf, while working in California last year. «He was on top of our wish list. He told us, ‘You may have a German passport, but for me you are part of the international rock family,’» said Meine. The band members, who hope to turn this festival into an institution, have strong faith in the power of rock music. Meine recalled a show in the then Soviet Union, in the late 80s, when people drove for hours to watch them play. «People had different views about how they wanted to live in Russia, before the wall came down. Rock music had an impact on them growing up, it represented freedom.» Tickets can be purchased at Ticket House (42 Panepistimiou), Virgin Megastores, Village Cinemas and at Karaiskaki Stadium’s Gate 25.