If you happened to have a craving for melodic power metal on Friday September the 18th, the universe was smiling upon you as two titans of the genre were playing at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre- Queensryche and Scorpions.
The stage was first graced by the heady, progressive act Queensryche. Touring in support of their upcoming album Condition Human, they brought their conceptual art-metal alive with accompanying visuals. Particularly effective was the Grammy-nominated “Silent Lucidity”, with its orchestral accoutrements and operatic vocals.
You’d be forgiven for doing a double take when seeing any literature promoting this concert; the name “Scorpions 50th Anniversary Tour” seems like a typo at first. Don’t they meant “Scorpions 30th Anniversary Tour”?? But it’s true- the German rock stars formed the band in 1965, long before the glam metal movement during which they scored their biggest hits. It was only in the 80s that they honed their sound into the familiar incarnation people are most familiar with. Wanting to appeal to the crowd with their more well-known singles, their setlist was accordingly tailored to mostly post 1980 material, starting with singles from Animal Magnetism. It’s that past however, that sets Scorpions apart from their contemporaries in the UK and North America.
Though they might have been lumped in with the hair metal acts of that era, but because of their decade-plus in the classic hard rock scene, they had a different approach to songwriting and style than their peers. Their differences can also be attributed to their background. After all, one of their biggest songs, “Wind of Change”, is a heartfelt political song that could not have been written by a band from another country.
They’re also more jovial than many of their peers. At the beginning of their set they dedicated a song to Canada, complete with the maple leaf flag emblazoned on the massive screen behind them.
As they burnt through hits like “The Zoo” and “No One Like You”, lead singer Klaus Meine bounded from one side of the stage to the other. Meanwhile 67 year-old lead guitarist Rudolf Schenker continues to look 30 years younger as he struts around in leather pants and his trademark sunglasses, grinning through the whole set. Drummer James Kottaklooked positively avuncular as he pummeled his way through several intense instrumental breaks; simultaneously determined and casual.
Along with the big hits there was a smattering of new material from their latest album Return to Forever, released earlier this year. All very hook-filled and memorable. It’s no surprise however, that the crowd was waiting with bated breath for monster smash hit “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, which Meine teased before delivering with full gusto. Though they can be lewd at times, they know their credo is to deliver a good time, which is exactly what they did.