A battle cry from the faithful once rang out in the hallowed halls of high schools. Probably not so much anymore. But for those of us who remember, the Scorpions gave us a night of nostalgia and one to remember.
Hailing from Germany, the Scorpions last came through the Portland area more than a decade ago on the band’s seeming farewell tour after the release of Sting in the Tail. But two albums later, several tours later, Scorpions return on the Rock Believer Tour to support the album of the same name with no reason to call it quits. Because…
Scorpions played a powerhouse 90 minute setlist consisting of 17 songs on Sunday at Moda Center in Portland. Their heyday long in the rearview mirror, the upper 300 level curtained off leaving only the lower bowl open, but these rockers (the core) now in their 70s seem unbreakable as the band approaches 60 years since their inception.
Few bands, of course, last that long and even fewer (if any) boast the same lineup. Indeed, the Scorpions have had their fair share of members but, arguably, the heart remains. Founder Rudolf Schemker keeps rhythm on guitar, Klaus Meine, the source of those iconic vocals since 1969 and Matthias Jabs., the architect of the guitar chords that helped propelled the Scorpions onto the charts, joined in 1978. Pawel Maciwoda started on bass nearly 20 years ago and drummer Mikkey Dee joined in 2016.
Scorpions played their hits drawing three each off their hit records Love at First Sting and Crazy World while hardly neglecting their critically acclaimed 19th album Rock Believer with four tracks and perhaps to make a point in their confidence in the new release, Scorpions opened the night with one of that album’s best “Gas in the Tank.”
From there, a hard rock and glam rock lovers paradise. Meine sounds like Meine. Vocals with a bit of German twang that stands this band out from all others. You know it’s the Scorpions once Meine starts singing. At 74, he shuffles around like he’s 74, no longer bouncing around stage like he did 40 years ago but he delivered perfect pitch all evening on classics like “The Zoo,” “Tease Me Please Me” and “No One Like You.”
A couple of instrumentals too. Scorpions tapped into 1978’s Lovedrive, the first album featuring Jabs, for “Coast to Coast” (not with George Noory) and two non-album instrumentals in “Delicate Dance” which Jabs led flawlessly on guitar delivering a much bigger sound live than what you get on their MTV Unplugged release and “New Vision” a throbbing Maciwonda bass solo that could shock a heart arrhythmia back into sync with accompanying drums that turned into a five minute Mikkey Dee drum solo rife with double bass. I think even Neil Peart would approve.
Additional stellar picks off Rock Believer in “Peacemaker,” Seventh Sun” and the title track but a few more would have been nice and any other combination of four off the record would have sufficed. It’s that good. Meine changed up the opening line to “Wind of Change” to honor Ukraine, a nice touch but overall failed to fully deliver the emotional punch of this timeless classic as Meine let the audience do a little too much of the singing. But wow, was he sharp on “Bad Boys Running Wild” the opening track off 1984’s smash album Love at First Sting, the affecting “Send Me an Angel” from 1990’s Crazy World and the rocking “Make It Real” which opens Animal Magnetism from 1980.
Scorpions ended the main set with “Blackout” as Schemker walked around with a muffler attached to his guitar spewing smoke and “Big City Lights” then encored with “No One Like You” and of course their biggest hit “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
Scorpions played tight from start to finish their only blunder (I think) in missing the middle verse on “Hurricane” however it was such a party no one noticed, and the band covered impressively, or maybe I just got lost in the music not wanting the show to end.
Any talk of retirement ended shortly after their “final tour” announcement in 2010 but Scorpions unlikely have another decade. Whatever the future holds, Scorpions seem to have enough gas in the tank for another lap around the world.
Scorpions Rock Believer Tour Portland Setlist:
- Gas in the Tank
- Make It Real
- The Zoo
- Coast to Coast
- Seventh Sun
- Bad Boys Running Wild
- Delicate Dance
- Send Me an Angel
- Wind of Change
- Tease Me Please Me
- Rock Believer
- New Vision
- Big City Nights
- No One Like You
- Rock You Like a Hurricane