Every time a band announces a “farewell tour,” the cynic thinks it’s a grab for the money, one last shot at glory. Given how many bands have had multiple farewell tours, including the Who and Kiss — not to mention countless indie rockers over the last few years — that’s a justified cynicism.
German heavy-metal band Scorpions brought their farewell tour to the 1stBank Center in Broomfield Tuesday night. Though the band is far removed from its glory days, they still put on a hell of a show, and it was easy to wonder at the end of the night if this too, might not be the first of several farewell tours.
Scorpions reached their apogee in the mid-1980s, a time characterized by over-the-top excess in concert presentations and a polished pop-metal sound embraced by everyone from Def Leppard to Motley Crue. Judging by their stage presentation Tuesday night, Scorpions remain firmly entrenched in that period. James Kottak’s drum kit was placed on a riser resembling a ship’s prow that went up and down during the course of the set. A long stage walk into the crowd allowed lead guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker plenty of room to run out into the audience to exhort fist pumps, devil horn salutes and the like.
Despite their ages (vocalist Klaus Meine and Schenker both turn 62 this year, Jabs will turn 55), Scorpions still have plenty of energy. Meine’s voice soars high on everything from classic power ballads to Scorpions’ best known anthems, and Schenker stalked the stage like the demented loon he played in the video for “No One Like You.”
The band is touring in support of its 17th studio album, “Sting in the Tail,” and played several songs from that record, opening with the title track. While some of the new material wasn’t bad, it doesn’t compare to the band’s glory period. Early in the 90-minute set, Scorps found their metal groove on “Bad Boys Running Wild” and an epic “The Zoo,” with Jabs throwing fans back in time to the ’70s with the use of a talk box effect.
On the instrumental “Coast to Coast,” Schenker and Jabs twined the main guitar riff in stereo while Meine pummeled power chords underneath.
Power ballads were Scorpions’ forte in the ’80s, and they played some acoustic-based ones, dedicating “Send Me an Angel” to Ronnie James Dio and turning “Holiday” into a sing-a-long, with plenty of exhortations for lighters.
Despite their long career, Scorpions haven’t really evolved. Their concerts are still defined by the bombast and excess of ’80s metal shows. Kottak pummeled the crowd into submission with a 10-minute drum solo, and Jabs took an over-the-top guitar solo before “Big City Nights.” It was all good fun, but given the tightness of the set and that this is ostensibly a “farewell tour,” the solos could have been skipped and more songs added.
While most of the hits were there, including the double encore anthems of “No One Like You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” there was no “Still Loving You,” “Rhythm of Love” or “Winds of Change.” Perhaps those will be on the next “farewell tour,” which would make “The Best Is Yet to Come,” an anthem from the new album, prophetic.
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John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.