German Rockers – Scorpions – Still Going Strong After 50+ Years

Klaus Meine at the 1st Trust Center in Broomfield, Colorado. Photo © 2017 Josh Chaikin

When thinking about Scorpions, it’s easy to dismiss them as another flash in the pan that was the 80’s music scene. But Scorpions had already been going strong since the 60’s. With albums like Blackout, and Love at First Sting Scorpions were a dominant force in the arenas, and on the airwaves. With an album of new material released two years ago, and still more material being recorded (though no word of a new album), Scorpions have demonstrated that they can still rock us like a hurricane.

Having announced their farewell tour in 2010, the German icons decided they still had steam left in them, and maybe they weren’t ready to go just yet. With regular shows, and two new albums since, Scorpions have showed no signs of slowing down. And though I’m usually the first to roll my eyes when a band announces their farewell tour, only to reemerge a short time later, this is one time that I’m glad they changed their minds.

Love at First Sting was one of the first albums I bought growing up, so I might be a little biased, but I was in good company the 3500 people who packed into the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield. Things kicked off with Going Out with a Bang from Scorpions’ 2015 album Return to Forever. Opening with “new” material is always risky, especially when there’s a catalog going back five decades, but it showed that Scorpions had no intention of slowing down. 

Though guitarist Rudolf Schenker is truly the only original Scorpions member left, vocalist Klaus Meine has recorded on every album, and Scorpions’ other guitarist, Matthias Jabs, has been with the band since 1978, and helped record some of their most commercially successful tracks. Rounding out the bill was bassist since 2005,  Paweł Mąciwoda, and former Motörhead  drummer, Mikkey Dee.

When a band has been around for as long as Scorpions has, it’s expected that they won’t sound as good as they did in their hey-day. Apart from some minor technical differences in the drumming (wholly expected from drummers), Scorpions sound amazingly like they did in the 70’s and 80’s. When Klaus completely lost his voice during the recording of Blackout, he wasn’t expected to ever sing again. He came back with a vengeance, and is still going strong as he’s about to turn 70.

Scorpions set list included all the expected hits Big City Nights, Still Loving You, The Zoo, and many more, as well as a tribute to Lemmy with a cover of Motörhead’s Overkill, and more material from 2012’s Return to Forever with We Built this House. It became apparent fairly quickly that I was one of the few people singing along; thankfully, the lyrics were being projected onto the giant LEDs that formed the stage’s backdrop to help along in the chorus. The crowd might not have known the song before, but by the end, fists were pumping with everyone shouting along with the chorus.

Towards the end of the evening, the unmistakable whistle from Wind of Change came through the speakers, and the LED showed an image of the Berlin Wall. It would’ve been very easy to make a political statement at that time, but Klaus simply said “It was a Crazy World then, and it’s a Crazy World now” before breaking into the whistle himself. Lighters came out, and strangers put their arms around each other as they joined in singing along. It was a beautiful moment, and shows just how powerful can be.

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Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin

Setlist: Going Out With a Bang/Make It Real/The Zoo/Coast to Coast/Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train/We Built This House/Delicate Dance (with Ingo Powitzer)/Always Somewhere / Eye of the Storm / Send Me an Angel/Wind of Change/Rock ‘n’ Roll Band/Overkill/Drum Solo/Blackout/Big City Nights/No One Like You/Still Loving You/Rock You Like a Hurricane/

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