Scorpions – ‘MTV Unplugged in Athens’ (2013) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

The Scorpions have really had a new life since their farewell tour. With a new album, ‘Comeblack’ which had them re-record old hits and some covers, the band was having a good time again. So, when MTV approached them about doing an MTV Unplugged, they jumped at the chance. They put a lot of work in to re-arranging the songs for an acoustic setting as you can tell from the “Making of Documentary” on the DVD on this release. The band actually didn’t really wanted to play their hits, but dig deep. With pushback coming from either the label or MTV (I forget which), they agreed to do some of their hits, but they also went deep and even brought in some new songs specifically for this set. The setlist is one of the highlights as we get old school Scorpions, 80’s heyday and even songs from today. It spans their career in what a good setlist should do.

The recorded 25 songs and performed at MTV’s first outdoor unplugged show and they couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful spot than high a top a mountain at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens , Greece. It was recorded over 2 nights on September 11 and 12, 2013. The release came quick on November 29, 2013 and I think the U.S. got it later. Let’s get out the one bad thing about the US version. The US Version is only 1 CVD and not a full show. The DVD that comes with it has the full show, but the CD does not. I am not sure why the rest of the world had a 2 CD full show option and we didn’t, but it is what it is. So, I am reviewing the DVD, full show set.

The full band is there and front and center are Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathais Jabs. The other two guys are slightly behind them with James Kottak on drums and Pawel Maciwoda on bass. But they weren’t alone, wow! There is a lot of extra help on the stage including a string ensemble, an extra percussionist with Pitti Hecht and then Mikael Nord Andersson, Ola Hjelm, Ingo Powitzer and Martin Hansen all on guitar (plus Mathias & Rudolf). And that wasn’t all, you also got Hans Gardemar on piano and accordion plus several surprise guest vocalists. It is a full house and one hell of a party.

Playing an acoustic show is honest and raw. There is no hiding behind loud instruments to mask any mistakes, but this band is so seasoned, there really aren’t any. Plus, Klaus Meine’s vocals sound as good today as they did 40 years ago when the band started (this is 2013 so it is 40 years not the 50 it is now). When you load up with 5 guitarists and two percussionist, you get a full, rich sound that livens things up and no shredding is needed. With the opening song, “Sting of the Tail”, they take a rocking track and turn it in to a fun, singalong, upbeat sunshiny song like they do with all the heavy rockers in this set. But the highlights are the older, more rare tracks like with “Pictured Life” and “Speedy’s Coming”, two old-school 70’s tracks they haven’t played in years and they are well worth it here. The stupid CD for the US version leaves these two gems off…what idiots the label guys are.

Then we hit a couple ballads with the emotional and touching “Born to Touch Your Feelings” and it was so moving, the guest singer, Dimitra Kokkori, was brought to tears. And “The Best is Yet to Come” sees everyone on stage assist with backing vocals and it sounds grand and gives it a little something extra. The first of the songs is up next with “Dancing with the Moonlight” which is an upbeat romp that sees some fantastic playing and more soaring vocals. Then the another real big treat is the song “In Trance” which is turned in to a duet with Cathe who wasn’t even born when this song was originally released. It is a great re-imaging of the song and plays perfectly here (and left off the CD as well).

After another emotional tug at the heart strings with the ballad, “When You Came Into My Life”, you get three solos. Each solo is one of the main band members playing a new song they wrote specifically for this. First up is Mathias Jabs with “Delicate Dance” and with the help of a backing band, he shines on this instrumental and shows what an underrated player this man is. Really fantastic. Mathias then introduces his partner-in-crimes’ turn with Rudolf Schenker performing the song “Love is The Answer” and if you are expecting a instrumental, you’d be wrong. Rudolf actually sings this one and although he isn’t the greatest singer, it is still a really cool and wonderful surprise. Another highlight. The last solo is Klaus. He is not known for his guitar work and still won’t be after this. His song “Follow Your Heart” is a simple, cliched and generic piece that won’t set the charts on fire, but it is still neat to see him pull out a guitar and play.

“Send Me An Angel” is up next and this ballad is played to perfection. A beautiful song that doesn’t sound much different stripped down to an acoustic track considering it was basically that to begin with. Klaus, again, sounds amazing. The crowd singing with the chorus just makes it that much more beautiful. “Where the River Flows” almost sounds country with the added harmonica and that swaggering groove. “Passion Rules the Game” is another rocker that is toned down and flipped on its ear. It almost doesn’t sound like the same song, but it is still there at heart.

Then we get a guest singer with Johannes Strate as they go in to the classic Scorpions rock anthem “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. It starts out with strings and Johannes opens the first verse. The crowd claps along and Klaus takes the 2nd verse and then the band comes roaring in and the song rocks out like you’d expect. Even acoustically, it still kicks ass. They keep rocking with “Hit Between the Eyes” before we get a drum battle between James Kottak and percussionist Pitti Hecht which is a fun back & forth.

After the drum battle, it is another new track with “Rock And Roll Band” which was written back in the 80’s and sounds like that style for sure. It is fun, uplifting and dare I say bombastic. The band looks like they are having a blast. I am not sure why this wasn’t ever released, but it really fits the band. Then the band rips through some classics like “Blackout” and then the ballad “Still Loving You” and with a piano and a cello to open, you know it is going to be something special and it is. Such a damn fine song and still a favorite of mine.

And then after rocking through “Big City Nights” we get yet another treat. Klaus is joined on stage by A-Ha’s singer, Morten Harket, and no, they don’t play “Take on Me”. Instead, they play the bands probably most recognizable song worldwide, ‘Wind of Change”. The whistle is still there and I don’t know how he does it so well after singing for almost 2 hours. Morten’s vocals play nicely with Klaus and they take an old boring song and give it something different with the new voice and make almost new again. I’ve still heard this song way too much. The band ends the night with “No One Like You” and the final song “When the Smoke is Going Down” which lets the night end on a softer note, but the song was almost epic sounding and really was a great finish to a wonderful evening.

Over 2 hours of music, 25 songs and plenty of guests, MTV Unplugged in Athens was a magical night and if you were one of the lucky few to see one of these nights, you were treated to a show like none other from the band and to have it captured so perfectly on DVD is even better. Klaus’s vocals don’t seem to have aged a bit as he sounds just as good today as he did back when they started, if not even more seasoned and better. With the stage full of musicians and so many different instruments, there was nothing boring about it, it all worked perfectly. I do wish Scorpions could’ve played more deep cuts like they wanted to, but I will take what we got. Now, because the CD I have isn’t the full show, the DVD is what I will listen to when I want to watch this show. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars, I probably should’ve knocked more off for the shitty single CD, but I couldn’t. It really is a nice piece for the Scorpions collection.



  1. Lonesome Crow (1972)
  2. Fly to the Rainbow (1974)
  3. In Trance (1975)
  4. Virgin Killer (1976)
  5. Taken by Force (1977)
  6. Tokyo Tapes (1978)
  7. Lovedrive (1979)
  8. Best of Scorpions (1979)
  9. Animal Magnetism (1980)
  10. Rock Galaxy (1980) – Bonus Edition
  11. Blackout (1982)
  12. Hot & Heavy (1982)
  13. Love at First Sting (1984)
  14. Still Loving You Maxi Single (1984)
  15. Best of Scorpions Vol. 2 (1984)
  16. Gold Ballads (1984)
  17. World Wide Live (1985)
  18. Savage Amusement (1988)
  19. Rhythm of Love – Single (Box Set) (1988)
  20. Best of Rockers ‘n’ Ballads (1989)
  21. Crazy World (1990)
  22. Crazy World – 4 Track From Crazy World Promo Vinyl (1990)
  23. Tease Me Please Me Promo CD (1990)
  24. Don’t Believe Her Promo CD (1990)
  25. Send Me An Angle Promo CD (1991)
  26. Face the Heat (1993)
  27. Live Bites (1995)
  28. Pure Instinct (1996)
  29. Big City Nights (Compilation) (1998)
  30. Eye II Eye (1999)
  31. Moment of Glory (with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra) (2000)
  32. Acoustica (2001)
  33. Bad for Good: The Very Best Of Scorpions (2002)
  34. Unbreakable (2004)
  35. Humanity: Hour 1 (2007)
  36. Sting in the Tail (2010)
  37. Comeblack (2011)
  38. MTV Unplugged in Athens (2013)
  39. Return to Forever (2015)
  40. Rock Believer (2022)
  41. The Albums Ranked Worst to First

12 thoughts on “Scorpions – ‘MTV Unplugged in Athens’ (2013) – Album Review (The Scorpions Collection Series)

  1. Cool stuff John but I have been burnt out on these unplugged/symphony mashups for years lol. Last one I ever bought was the KISS Symphony one and I don’t even recall if its good or not. I’m glad you dig it though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Kiss one is fantastic!! But I’m biased. This one is good and I think it is because it is an MTV Unplugged album. They did Acoustica and it was ehh. The variety of songs, new songs and such make this one worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds like quite the set. It wasn’t something that really interested me when it came out but it seems they went the extra mile to make something special. And yeah that is pretty lame that they cut songs on the US version, I don’t see what would have been the difference with selling the whole set in 2013 especially.


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