They came, they saw and they rocked us like hurricanes. German rockers Scorpions brought their platinum ballads and rock anthems to the Bell Centre last night, celebrating their 50th anniversary tour just a few years after their so called “Farewell” tour. If there’s one thing old rockers don’t know, it’s the proper definition of the word farewell.
But no one in attendance would have held that against them, as they sang along to classics like “Wind of Change”, “No One Like You”, “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. At 67, singer Klaus Meine doesn’t move around much but his trademark nasal voice remains strong and never faltered. Guitarist Rudolf Schenker, who along with Meine is the sole remaining member to have appeared on each of the band’s records, still runs around grinning like a maniac, banging out those instantly recognizable chords and riffs.
The band kicked things off with “Going Out With a Bang”, from their latest album “Return to Forever”. But it is with the following pair of tracks from 1980’s “Animal Magnetism”, “Make It Real” and “The Zoo”, that the crowd really got going (especially for the latter). The instrumental “Coast to Coast” was next, and then the band dug deep into their catalog with a medley of songs from 1975-77 that despite being excellent, didn’t seem to catch on with a segment of the crowd obviously more into the newer, more well known material.
The band weaved in three more tracks from their latest, and while the crowd was obviously not familiar with them (the album came out only a week ago in North America), they sound enough like classic Scorpions to fit well into the set. A short acoustic medley featured crowd pleasers “Always Somewhere” and “Send Me an Angel”, and they followed with “Wind of Change”, with the near sold out crowd acting as choir for the band.
The show was dragged down a little by the multiple instruments segments, although that’s better than just a guitar player wailing away pointlessly alone on stage. James Kottak’s drum solo pilfered from Tommy Lee’s bag of tricks, but as Lee’s ex-brother-in-law he should know the bar’s been set much higher than the series of clichés he lined up. The last stretch of the set was a blockbuster one though, with “Blackout”, “No One Like You” and “Big City Nights” back to back. The band came back for an encore of “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” to close the show in spectacular fashion.
The evening started with progressive metal pioneers Queensrÿche, who offered a solid set of classics (from the debut to “Empire”), along with one new track from their upcoming album “Condition Human”. New singer Todd La Torre fills in the vocal duties spectacularly, hitting all the high notes, especially on their closing number “Queen of the Reich” from their debut EP. While La Torre does not have the stage presence of his predecessor Geoff Tate, vocally he was every bit up to the task.
It should also be noted that security at the Bell Centre has been beefed up recently, with metal detectors at the door. I assume it’ll get more efficient as people and staff get used to it, but for this show getting was slowed down considerably by this. Take note if you’re attending an event at the Bell Centre.