Straight from the classic-rock rulebook, Section 2, Paragraph 1(b): When embarking on a “farewell” tour, never book an accomplished opening act that’s got a big enough following to command mention on the bill. If you choose to ignore this rule, you must never open your set with the title track from a recent album that only your most diehard fans realize exists.
The Scorpions not only violated this covenant—following a blistering set by well-respected Tesla by opening with something called “Sting in the Tail”—but they did so defiantly. It was as though the German rockers said, “We’ve been around for 40 years; why do you think that is? Damn right, we’ll do whatever the hell we want—and we’ll do it so well that by night’s end you’ll be begging us not to retire.” And that’s precisely how it went down here.
With guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs delivering the familiar heavy licks and frontman Klaus Meine—who has always sung at an octave few of his peers could reach with a construction ladder—defying time by hitting note after note, the Scorpions sounded as good in 2012 as they did at the peak of their power some three decades earlier. The opening number aside, the band dug deep into a catalog that’s 23 albums strong to produce a set that was filled with one sing-along hit after another. And proving that they don’t totally flaunt that classic-rock rulebook, the Scorps saved their best for last, as five of the last six songs—“Blackout” and “Big City Nights,” followed by an encore of “Still Loving You,” “No One Like You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane”—were bona fide hard-rock anthems.
It was only fitting on a night of goodbyes that the final lyric that reverberated through the arena was Meine singing “Here I am!” Thankfully for Scorpions fans, retirements in the rock world are often like those in boxing: They rarely last forever. ★★★★☆
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