(Live Review) SCORPIONS - Chicago, September 1/22
Review by: The Beard, (and Little Johnny) Productions
For this show, your erstwhile reviewer ditched usual sidekick "Little Johnny" in favor of providing a birthday gift to good friend Michelle Lee. Ms. Michelle was a fervent fan of the Scorpions growing up and had never had the opportunity to see the band live. This was an opportunity for The Beard to be altruistic and a basic "good" human. I did promise Little Johnny that he would be with me Monday at a concert review somewhat more his speed.
On the plus side, we had excellent seating being in row "A" directly behind the sound and light board and off the floor so no issues with direct sight line. EXCEPT... we were right behind the camera used for the 50-foot video screens on each end of the stage. (Apparently, I was not the only one who knew where the best line of sight was.) This was an annoyance, but didn't unduly detract from the experience.
Due to the loss of Whitesnake from the tour via singer David Coverdale's illness, show openers Thunder Mother got extra time and performed a 45-minute set of girl band Rock and Roll.
Hailing from Sweden, (yes Johnny...you missed hot Swedish rocker chicks), Thunder Mother had a fusing of the 1980's rock sound with that of the more 1990's Halestorm style. Vocalist Guernica Mancini speaks and sings in almost perfect English (with just a sexy little trace of accent). Although the band has existed since 2010, the current incarnation really began in 2017 after the mass exodus of four of the five original members leaving only founding guitar player Fillipa Nassil to rebuild the band and take this new direction in style.
Although originally slated for the 20-25 minute true "opener" slot, Thunder Mother had ample material to give a solid 45-minute supporting act set last night and never lacked for confidence and swagger. The ladies knew how to play and how to pose, (allowing The Beard" a chance to get shots of the standard consummate "Rock Star" poses).
Putting together a nice 45-minute eleven song set, Thunder Mother energized the crowd in exactly the way a support act is supposed to. With songs like, "Black & Gold" (from their new album and complimented by their stage outfits of like colors), "Loud and Free", and "We Fight for Rock and Roll", their high energy set and (yes) sexy Swedish girls look revved up the All-State Arena crowd for the main course to follow. The Beard gives a solid 78/100
Scorpions have been around for 50 years. Their five members have a combined age of 327. Let THAT sink in for a minute. It is amazing these guys are functioning, let alone still touring the world, filling stadiums every single night.
Twin powers Klaus Meine (singer) and Rudolph Schenker (guitars) are each 74 years old and still going pretty strong. I will admit Klaus kind of shuffles around the stage now rather than strides or runs, (although he still gets up and down those drum riser steps better than I will in 18 more years when The Beard gets that old). Schenker (the Beard freely admits) is in way way better shape at 74 than the Beard has been in since probably 34. Whatever that guy’s regiment is it is working. He still plays amazing as well.
Although younger by a bit, Matthias Jabbs at 66 still plays great as well, and their addition of Mickey Dee to the drum stool was a stroke of brilliance. At 58, he still pounded the skins and gave a solo worthy of any man 20 years his junior. Skills and talent will always win out.
Scorpions can afford a million-dollar light show, and clearly, they spent at least that much on it because other than Opeth, I cannot remember seeing a lighting show as vibrant as what the Scorp's threw out there last night. Not just the lights, but the effects and video footage were top notch. Miss Michelle definitely got a birthday present worth remembering with this set, and the smile glued to her face for almost 90 straight minutes verified how much she was enjoying what she was seeing.
Throwing down a 17-song set that covered a huge span of their careers, there was no way they could cover all the huge hits they have had in a half century and the Beard did wish they could have fit in such numbers as "Still Loving You", "Holiday" and "Another Piece of Meat", but nevertheless they kept one of the Beards all-time favorites "The Zoo" in there, and I could not dispute that some of the newer numbers like "Peacemaker" had all the trappings of why these guys have made it for 50 years in the Rock world.
The Crowd was also a big factor with huge participation during such hits as "Send Me an Angel" and "Big City Nights". There was adulation enough to fill the arena.
Being completely honest, there was a drop off during the encore mega hits of "No One Like You" and "Rock you like a Hurricane". They were played well, but after almost an hour and a half, Klaus at 74 was not able to maintain the full power of his still-wonderful voice, and those two songs were a bit off vocally. Fortunately, the crowd didn't much care as they enthusiastically filled in where Klause was short of volume and power.
Still, that does tug the grade down a bit. Time wins all battles eventually. That said though, TRULY, I can only hope I am in that good a shape when I hit 74.
All in all, this was an excellent show to kick off the Beard's September and I enjoyed myself immensely seeing the greats "still" being great. The Beard awards Scorpions a very strong 93/100.