TAMPA — Call us biased, call us blindingly hirsute, but there's no better place to witness a hair-metal extravaganza than right here in Tampa Bay. And there are no prouder suburban dirtballs to review an unshorn metal throwdown than Sean Daly and Steve Spears. Herewith, the Stuck in the '80s boys review Saturday's Scorpions and Ratt show at the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre.
Daly: If I could live anywhere, anytime, it'd be smack-dab in the middle of L.A.'s Sunset Strip circa the glam-rock '80s. And no one captured that boys-will-be-boys-who-look-like-girls sound better than Ratt.
Spears: And if I could live anywhere, anytime, it'd be in post-World War II West Germany, with only the rousing sounds of the Scorpions to warm my Cold War heart.
Daly: What?! I don't even know what that means.
Spears: Let's get one thing straight, Ratt 'n' Roller: The 9,000 people at this pavilion-only show were here to give final props to the Scorpions, the Teutonic titans saying farewell after 45 years together.
Daly: Make that 8,999 people, 'cause I was here for singer Stephen Pearcy and his verminous posse. Ratt had a tough opening gig, coming on in the blaring light of 7:50 p.m. Plus they were given a sad sliver of stage on which to prance for 50 minutes. But they made the best of it. On Wanted Man and Lay It Down, the 51-year-old Pearcy's snarly-squelchy voice sounded killer.
Spears: That's because it's well rested. Seriously, when's the last time these guys were relevant? Maybe back when Martha Quinn was still spinning videos?
Daly: Per usual, you're missing the metallic point. Ratt is all about sex, fun and reckless shenanigans in the face of conservative times. The Scorpions were great, but waaay too serious for a metal crew.
Spears: Yeah, because Rock You Like a Hurricane was such a solemn treatise. After opening with the new Sting in the Tail, the Scorpions offered up a 90-minute history lesson in rock 'n' roll. The 62-year-old vocalist Klaus Meine …
Daly: The 5-foot-4 Klaus Meine …
Spears: You're still going on about his height? You wouldn't shut up with the short jokes. I'm trying to listen to 1980's Make It Real or 1984's Bad Boys Running Wild, and you're talking about how Billy Barty could dunk on Meine.
Daly: Okay, fine. Meine can still wail, hitting all those searing, crystalline notes. And drummer James Kottak, sitting high on a Strobing skyscraper drum riser, was a flailing, shirtless wonder.
Spears: And don't forget the highlight of the night — and maybe the highlight of my concert year. Wind of Change, a 1990 anthem for the fall of the Berlin Wall, remains the most important rock song of the past 20 years. Will you agree with that?
Daly: Sure, it's either that or Ratt's "Lovin' You's a Dirty Job."
Spears: Ugh. Just go back to your short jokes, Ratt boy.
Sean Daly's Pop Life column runs every Sunday in the Floridian section. Steve Spears can be reached at tampabay.com/blogs/80s.