Saturday night saw thousands of rock fans pack into Rockhal to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of Germany’s most enduring hard rock bands, Scorpions.
There are probably only a handful of bands who have sold in excess of 100 million records and are still rocking out half a century after their formation but Scorpions are one of those select few. After an ill fated attempt of retirement back in 2010 the band have been on their 50th anniversary tour for the last year now, whilst at the same time releasing their 18th studio album.
As they took to the stage in front of a near capacity Rockhal, the giant curtain fell revealing an enormous screen stretching the length of the stage and rising around 50ft (15m) high with James Kottak sitting about 15ft (5m) up on his own stage above the band with his drums.
With so many albums under their belt, they have notched up their fair share of hits but it’s reassuring to hear that tracks such as “Going Out with a Bang” from their new album “Return to Forever” held up next to their classics such as “The Zoo” & “Coast to Coast”.
You’d even be forgiven for forgetting that Rudolf Schenker on guitar & Klaus Meine on vocals are 67 as they bounded about the stage like men half their age, running up and down to Kottak’s raised platform as well as perching at the front and holding their best rock poses for their adoring fans. As well as an abundance of energy, Meine’s vocals have lost almost none of its trademark melodic power as he still manages to sit upon the electrifying riffs all these years later.
After starting off at breakneck speed they took a few moments to slow it down, walking to the end of the runway – or ego stage as some call it – to play a few acoustic numbers in “Always Somewhere”, “Eye of the Storm” and classic ballad “Send Me An Angel”. Even in such a vast venue with a huge stage set up they managed to make these moments feel intimate and intense.
Then from nowhere, through the dark you could hear that unmistakable whistle and with that the crowd cheered knowing what was to come. “Wind of Change” was the track that launched the band onto the global scene and as they sang with help from the crowd there were powerful images of the Berlin wall up on the screen, which has become synonymous with the song.
It was then back to no holds barred rock as they delved into the blistering instrumental of “In The Line Of Fire” before the “Kottak Attack” which saw Kottak’s drum riser lift from the stage and hoisted halfway up to the roof of the Rockhal as he took us on a 5 minute drum solo.
After a couple of more riff heavy, hard rocking tracks with “Blackout” & ‘Big City Nights” they returned with the inevitable “Still Loving You” & “Rock You Like a Hurricane” giving us a dose of classic hard rock at its best, with the band still running around the huge stage, posturing and shredding up the chords just as they did in their hayday.
Most bands would be delighted if they still had their energy and enthusiasm after 10 years never mind 50 and if they keep performing like they did last night there could be yet many more years to come, after all as they say, Rock & Roll Forever.
12/3/16 – Rockhal