Those who think older bands can’t rock haven’t seen the Scorpions lately. The German band has definitely ridden out the roller coaster of the rock ‘n’ roll business and, after 21 years, has lost little of its edge. Even after success with rock ballads, including a No. 1 hit with “Winds of Change,” the Scorpions manage to keep a hard bite in their music.
The only noticeable change is lyrical development. Where they used to sing about parties and sex, the Scorpions now focus much more on serious global and personal issues.
On this night the band celebrated its sixteenth release, “Face the Heat” on Polygram Records, with a sold-out Forum of varied age groups.
The band still relied on a lot of outdated choreographed moves, which seemed unnecessary, as frontman Klaus Meine and lead guitarist Mattias Jabs are natural showmen with all the energy of 20-year-olds. Rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker, although equally energetic, was overly melodramatic, to the point of being comical; it reminded one of Spinal Tap.
Musically, the band members provide the necessities — they groove together — but they aren’t extraordinary players. Meine, however, is one of rock’s most distinctive vocalists. On this night, he faced some technical problems in the beginning of the show. His voice sporadically faded out of the mix and had no re-verb added to it. It wasn’t until the middle of the show when the problems were corrected that he could release himself with full potency.
With their long history of melodic rock material, the band had plenty from which to choose. Songs like “The Zoo” caused an uproar in the audience. But the encore was the fans’ peak experience, as they enjoyed their favorite Scorpions songs such as “No One Like You,””Winds of Change,” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
For the newer ballads, Schenker played a guitar while debut bassist Ralph Rieckermann played upright bass. Rieckermann’s first tour with the band was noticeable, although he blended fluidly with the rest of the Scorpions.
The elaborate light design was one of rock’s most attractive and unique presentations. The various angles complemented the sharp color coordinations.
Opening act Kings X, one of hard rock’s most innovative bands, accomplishes more with its three-man lineup than many bands do with four or five people. All three sing while playing elaborate parts on their respective instruments.
Kings X is touring in support of its fifth album, “Dogman,” on Atlantic Records. The record follows their regular formula, using heavy, uniquely harmonic guitar chords and psychedelic harmonies.
The Houston-based band played with precision and enthusiasm, but its many musical responsibilities restricted its ability to move around, providing very little to watch in a spread-out arena, and the stage seemed far too big.