If BMW is the ultimate driving machine then fellow German export, the Scorpions, are the ultimate touring machine. Well into year three of their allegedly final “Get Your Sting and Blackout” tour which has now become “The Final Sting Tour” (and may become, “No, We Really Mean It This Time, Final, Final Tour”), on Friday night, June 15, 2012, the Scorpions gave the sold out Comerica Theatre audience what it expected. Ninety minutes of power rock and roll, complete with light show, visual effects, scorching guitar antics, obligatory drum solo and a serving up of greatest hits and other material solidified why the Scorpions are one of the world’s most popular hard rock bands.
For those that saw the Scorpions’ last visit through town, visually not much may have changed. As three large video screens at the back of the stage projected the Scorpions’ appearance at 1983’s US Festival, drummer James Kottack climbed behind his set and as he pounded the opening to “Sting In The Tail,” joined by guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs, the drum platform rose into the air. Quickly the unmistakable voice of singer Klaus Meine was added to the mix and the night was off and running. With Schenker’s sprinting across the stage many times throughout the show, running is meant as much literally as it is figuratively.
The energy the Scorpions brought to the standing, fist pumping, head banging crowd continued with “Make It Real,” and “Is There Anybody There” and never really subsided throughout the night. During “The Zoo,” which may be German for, “here, have some drumsticks,” Meine was extremely generous in handing out the wooden souvenirs to the crowd as he would continue to do on occasion throughout the show.
The duel guitar work of Schenker and Jabs was on display with the instrumental “Coast To Coast,” and it was evident that these two musicians have been playing together for over thirty three years, as they effortlessly fed off one another. Yet, despite the fervor the audience had throughout the night, it was the mellow “Wind of Change,” complete with Meine’s opening whistling and images of the Berlin Wall’s destruction on the video screens in the back ground, that had those in attendance singing along to the chorus.
During “Holiday,” Meine asked the crowd “you wanna sing with me?” and “are you with me Phoenix?” Perhaps because Meine had spent the night walking the entire stage and flinging tambourines like Frisbees off to the side, he missed that Phoenix had been with him since the opening number. Nevertheless, the audience increased their vocalization.
It wouldn’t be a hard rock concert without a drum solo and drummer Kottack obliged. Kottack made it unique, combining his assault with a video that accompanied the solo. The video, flashed on the screens behind Kottack as he beat on his kit, featured Kottack in humorous versions of various Scorpion album cover photo shoots. Of local interest, although the video has been in use for the entire world wide tour, the video was filmed in Phoenix and co-produced by Valley residents, graphic designer, Shari Corbett of One Louder Designs and film maker Paul DeNigris of Locked Horns Productions.
The full band returned for “Blackout,” Schenker wearing the bandaged look from the cover of the album of the same name, This was one of many clothing changes Schenker made throughout the night, Schenker perhaps the hard rock version of Lady Gaga or Cher.
To the delight of the audience, Jabs blazed through his solo guitar work on “Six String Sting,” which then led way to the songs for which most in attendance had been waiting. The regular set closer “Big City Nights,” was sung with gusto by the crowd. With little doubt of an encore, the Scorpions did not disappoint, coming back to a flood of camera phones capturing “Still Loving You.”
After teasing the crowd with a few stanzas of “Arizona,” the band finished up with “No One Like You,” and “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” the fist pumping and bouncing up and down from those in the auditorium evidencing that their love for the performance that night had only grown.
The Scorpions were everything you could hope. Meine’s vocals were on target. Jabs’ and Schenker’s guitar work were outstanding. Kottack was the frenzied drummer essential to keep the spirit of hard rock alive and lived up to the tattoo on his back “Rock & Roll Forever.” Perhaps overlooked due to the performances around him, bassist Pawel Maciwoda kept things driving as well.
The band has said this is their last full blown world tour, words they did say two years ago. If they really mean it this time, it’s time to catch them before time catches up with them. Should Friday night’s concert signal farewell, it was done with a bang and not a whimper.
Set List: Sting In The Tail | Make It Real | Is There Anybody There? | The Zoo | Coast To Coast | Loving You Sunday Morning | Rhythm of Love | Wind of Change | Holiday | Raised On Rock | Tease Me Please Me | Hit Between The Eyes | Kottack Attack | Blackout | Six String Sting | Big City Nights | Encore: Still Loving You | Arizona (beginning only) | No One Like You | Rock You Like A Hurricane
View slideshow: Scorpions in concert, June 15, 2012, Phoenix, AZ