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Six reasons why we are still loving Scorpions

SINGAPORE — In the recent press conference with German hard rockers Scorpions, lead guitarist Matthias Jabs took great pains to emphasise that the band remains ‘relevant’ by living and playing for today. Certainly, the packed sold-out hall at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre last Friday (Oct 21) was solid evidence that on their 50th Anniversary tour, fans were ready and willing to shell out for tickets ranging from S$98 to S$168 — the ultimate test of selling power of any musical act worth their salt. We got into the pit to examine why rock fans are still loving Scorpions in 2016.

SINGAPORE — In the recent press conference with German hard rockers Scorpions, lead guitarist Matthias Jabs took great pains to emphasise that the band remains ‘relevant’ by living and playing for today. Certainly, the packed sold-out hall at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre last Friday (Oct 21) was solid evidence that on their 50th Anniversary tour, fans were ready and willing to shell out for tickets ranging from S$98 to S$168 — the ultimate test of selling power of any musical act worth their salt. We got into the pit to examine why rock fans are still loving Scorpions in 2016.

1. Familiar hits

A group’s success in the musical world can be said to depend on one main thing — its songs. For Scorpions, the group seems to have hit the right formula with its ubiquitous radio hits, that defined a generation of pop-metal. These tunes have allowed Scorpions to sell over 100 million records worldwide, too. Popular singles such as Rock You Like A Hurricane, Still Loving You and of course, Wind of Change drew enthusiastic responses from the rabid audience.

2. Mass karaoke

This intimate familiarity of the songs evoked spontaneous singalong sessions that was a wonder to behold as fans sang along loudly and lustily, with singer Klaus Meine obliging with the expected cliche of pointing the microphone towards the audience. Arguably, you could say that on challenging songs such as Always Somewhere and Send Me An Angel, it permitted Meine to avoid singing the higher notes! All of these contributed greatly to the overall experience of a Scorpions concert. A sense of togetherness amongst the audience, the collective sharing of a special event, was palpable throughout. Ironically, the act of raising mobile phones in the air — ostensibly to record the experience — was also part of this collective experience.

3. Visual spectacle

Although the video screens beside the stage were rather hackneyed and not entire suitable, the band themselves made up for this by providing a visual physicality to the sonic performance. The band members were constantly on the move and considering the ages of the more senior Scorpions — Meine and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker are both 68 and Jabs is 60! — the trio looked the part on stage.

4. Instrumental virtuosity

One of the main differences between so-called old school rock performances and modern pop concerts is the emphasis on instrumental virtuosity, which places the spotlight on instrumentalists and provides crucial variety for the fans within the concert. Along with the concert favourite Coast to Coast, guitarist Jabs was given the opportunity to shine (and he did!) on Delicate Dance, while drummer Mikkey Dee delivered the obligatory drum solo with some aplomb, to the delight of the audience.

5. Respect for fallen comrades

Mikkey Dee is, of course, the newest of Scorpions members, having only joined the band in September this year. Previously Dee was best known for his time in British rock band Motorhead, which disbanded in 2015 after the death of the legendary rocker Lemmy. It was thus a nice touch for Scorpions to cover a Motorhead tune — Overkill — and pay tribute to a fallen comrade. That certainly went a long way with the rock faithful.

6. 1970s nostalgia

Despite the pressure to play the well-known hits, the Scorpions did not forget their 1970s roots or the fans that had followed them since those foregone days. Thus, the 1970s medley of Top of the Bill/Steamrock Fever/Speedy’s Coming/Catch Your Train was deeply welcomed as premier fan-service by those in the audience old enough to remember those early days.

By the end of the 90-minute concert, it was clear that the 7,000 crowd had been well and truly sated by the experience — and some were still begging for more. This provided testimony to the fact that despite the decline of rock music in the popular music charts, as far as legacy bands such as Scorpions are concerned, the adage still rings true — Rock Never Death!

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