On Tuesday, October 6, myriad die-hard rockers flooded the Santa Barbara Bowl to see the world renowned German rock band the Scorpions. These hard rock heavy hitters are touring in celebration of the band’s 50th anniversary — proving that you’re never too old to sell out worldwide arenas if you can still sing, shred, and solo with the best of them. The Scorpions proved that they deserve every bit of credit they’ve achieved as one of the most prominent and longest lasting rock bands in the world.
Heavy metal prog rockers Queensryche started off the show at 6:30, on the road for their latest album, Condition Human, which just dropped last week. As such, it comes as no surprise that this band was raring to go as soon as they hit the stage with a plethora of fresh material and energy to deliver it successfully. Alongside classic hits like “Silent Lucidity” and “Jet City Woman,” Queensryche worked in the high-power Iron Maiden-esque (and hopefully the band’s newest single) “Arrow of Time” off Condition Human, delivering not only hardcore shredding, but a serious vocal range from lead vocalist Todd La Torre, who has only been with the band for three years.
By 7:45 p.m., the Scorpions were ready to rock with a set chock-full of hits. The set kicked off with “Going Out with a Bang” off the band’s latest album Return to Forever (out earlier this year), a song well-suited to open the set for a world-wide 50th anniversary tour. As if the song and its message weren’t clear enough, all five members of the band were decked out in leather pants and bounding back and forth across the stage for the duration of the night. This was the most rock and roll show I’ve seen in ages — and I go to a lot of concerts.
Drummer James Kottak performed a killer 10-minute drum solo halfway through the band’s set on a suspended platform that rose 20 feet in the air while he played, complete with smoke, spotlights, and lots of double bass. (If the band ever needs a second frontman besides lead vocalist Klaus Meine, I nominate the ever-charismatic Kottak as tribute.) At the end of his solo, Kottak stood atop his drum kit (still suspended in the sky — these guys don’t mess around) and ripped off his shirt to showcase his back tattoo, aptly reading “Rock and Roll Forever.” Between Kottak and Meine, the crowd had received a plethora of drumsticks (I lost count after 15), and enough star power to last a lifetime.
The band finished up the evening on an even higher note than they started, playing fan favorites like “No One Like You” and “Big City Nights” with artistic screen displays behind them — music video clips, animated illustrations, and psychedelic camera shots of both the Bowl’s audience and the Scorpions as they played. The Scorpions encored with their biggest and flashiest hits, “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” with 67-year-old Meine delivering vocals just as powerful now as they were when the songs were first released in 1984, sending fans into a frenzy that lasted long after the show had ended.