The Scorpions know their fans are coming to hear the songs to which they’ve grown up playing air guitar, and Tuesday night was no exception.
The Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis
Germany’s finest musical export—mighty, melodic, metal masters the Scorpions—rocked a sold-out audience at the plush and warm environs of the Fabulous Fox Theatre Tuesday night. The band delivered hit after hit, keeping the audience of aging rockers and new, young fans on their feet for an 18-song set.
If you listened to radio in the late ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s, you know the Scorpions. For decades, the band has charted with rockers, ballads, and anthems, selling 100 million albums along the way. Their videos were on constant rotation through the heyday of MTV, and their live shows are legendary, from Tokyo to Tulsa. They still can deliver live, and their fans know that they’re going to hear the hits and see a realm stadium-sized show with bombastic production, lasers, fog, and levitating drum solos.
Opening the show was the operatic, thinking-man’s metal group, Queensryche. Their “concept” album, 1988’s Operation Mind Crime, is still considered a crowning rock achievement. Queensryche delivered a tight, eight-song set that featured masterpieces like the aforementioned title track, featuring the dueling fretwork of guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, and the soaring vocals of Todd La Torre. Other set highlights included the ornate, spit-polished “Jet City Woman,” and closer “Eyes of a Stranger.” The quintet was tight, well oiled, and flawless.
The Scorpions stormed the stage to the opening strains of “Going Out with a Bang”; with the tour billed as their 50th Anniversary World Tour, this seemed only fitting. The diminutive, always-smiling front man Klaus Meine still has his platinum pipes, and guitarists Rudolph Schenker and Matthias Jabs proved why they’re guitar gods, having perfected their classic, stadium-stage struts and action poses. Meine, clad in black leather pants, jacket, and hat, knows how to work an audience. He used several opportunities to thank St. Louis fans for all their support over the many decades of the band’s career.
The Scorpions know their fans are coming to hear the songs to which they’ve grown up playing air guitar, and Tuesday night was no exception. Whether it was the crunchy, palm-muted rhythms and talk-box gurgling of “The Zoo,” or the sing-along chorus and giant hooks of “Big City Nights,” fans sang every lyric, air played every guitar solo, and air drummed each fill and cymbal crash. The show highlight for fans of the band’s earlier days had to be the medley of songs from their classic 1978 live album, Tokyo Tapes. The four-song walk down memory lane consisted of “Top of the Bill,” “Steamrock Fever,” “Speedy’s Coming,” and “Catch a Train.” They more mature Scorpions fans sang along and shook their hair or aging domes in unison.
During the wonderful ballad “Wind of Change,” as the audience swayed back and forth, some put their cell phones in the air as a substitute for the trusty old Bic lighter, the prop of every ’80s concertgoer. And what rock show would be complete with a drum solo on a huge riser? Former Motörhead and King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee now sits comfortably on the drum throne, and bassist Pawel Maciwoda holds it all together. The band’s encore included the mystical, poignant rocker ballad “Still Loving You,” and the headbanging guitars and catchy chorus of “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
As the drained audience, young and old, left the venue, their ears rang with the songs they know and love still looping in their minds. After 50 years of rocking the world, the Scorpions’ sting is still strong. With so many of our rock star heroes either hanging it up or passing on to rock ’n’ roll heaven, now is the time to see the original prophets and practitioners of melodic, scorching rock ’n’ roll. The Scorpions are one of the obligatory, vital, and necessary concerts you need in your scrapbook. | Doug Tull