Even though this is supposed to be their “farewell” tour, the Scorpions don’t look like they’re ready to hang it up anytime soon.--- In front of a sizeable crowd at Usana Ampitheater on Monday night, the band romped their way through a two-hour, 19-song set that showcased a veteran rock & roll group who is clearly not on a downhill slide at the tail end of their career.
But before that sonic onslaught, Queensryche was slated to be the opening act. They cancelled at the last minute; however, Queensryche lead singer Geoff Tate offered up a performance by his acoustic band that was a mix of solo material and Queensryche classics. The four-piece ensemble, featuring guitars, keyboards and a stand-up bass, gave a tight and bluesy performance that served as a nice counterpunch to the headlining act. Tate’s soaring vocals were a familiar touchstone as his group made their way through unfamiliar, yet striking, arrangements of “Jet City Woman” and “Silent Lucidity.”
No frills. No gimmicks. No fancy special effects. After 45 years, Scorpions frontman Klaus Meine and the rest of the band know who they are and delivered what they do best: straightforward, chest-pounding rock & roll. In case the audience were at all unclear about the band’s intentions, at one point during the show they broke out a four-guitar lineup for a blistering musical interlude.
The most entertaining part of the show had to be the antics of drummer James Kottak. One could argue that the single largest expenditure for the entire tour is fresh drumsticks. Kottak went through what seemed like several hundred during the performance. Sticks were thrown to the crowd or launched vertically as he exhorted the audience to sing along and pump their fists. His lengthy drum solo, accompanied by a video tour of the group’s most memorable album covers, was worth the price of admission alone. At several points, he climbed atop the drum set to show off his full-back tattoo, which read “Rock & Roll Forever.” His manic energy made you believe he might actually be able to live up to that mantra.
This is the second “farewell” tour stop in Salt Lake City. The last one was in 2010. The show this time around was basically the same as the last -- same staging, same visuals. But, that’s not to suggest that the band has become stale. Performances of “Winds of Change,” “No One Like You” and “Big City Nights” still sound as good as ever. Guitarist Rudolph Schenker hasn’t lost a step, even donning the familiar white cap and eye guards from the Blackout album cover during the performance of the same. And, yes, they did not disappoint with their closing number of “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” but I’ll refrain from making an easy and lame reference to the song title and its effect on the crowd. A rock & roll classic deserves better than my hackneyed attempt at humor.
It’s hard to believe this may be the last time we will ever see the Scorpions in Salt Lake City. If Monday night were any indication, they’re simply having too much fun to give it up.