PHOENIX – Scorpions brought the third stop of the North American leg of their “Crazy World Tour” to sizzling Phoenix, with special guests Queensrÿche opening the night. Last year, Scorpions were supposed to “sting” (or delight) fans, but their lead singer Klaus Meine had a laryngitis diagnosis, and was advised by doctors not to sing, resulting in a cancellation of the rest of their tour. The band apologized for missing Arizona last year, and made up for it with their amazing sixteen-song set list.
Queensrÿche did a phenomenal job of starting the show and warming up the audience. For those unfamiliar with Queensrÿche, they are an American heavy metal band from Bellevue, Washington. The band was formed in 1980, and originated as Cross+Fire, which was renamed to The Mob, and finally to Queensrÿche. The band has sold over six million albums in the United States and over twenty million albums around the world. They kicked off the show with the song “Best I Can” from their 1990 album, Empire.
The lead singer Todd La Torre banged his head to the beat, greeted the crowd, and invited all to sing along to “Empire.” Many people stood up and sang along with the band, throwing their fists up into the air. La Torre expressed his appreciation, saying, “We are happy and honored to play for you. Thanks to Scorpions for having us. This song has been on our set for a while. Sing along if you know it. This is ‘Guardian’.” Later, La Torre referenced the band’s history, saying, “Who is an old school Queensrÿche fan? You know how we got our name. Here’s ‘Queen of the Reich’.” They wrapped up their nine-song set list with the song, “Eyes of a Stranger” from their 1988 album, Operation: Mindcrime.
As the roadies prepared the stage for Scorpions, a giant black banner went up with the logo of the “Crazy World Tour”. It proudly overlooked a nearly sold out show. When the banner dropped, a video of a helicopter going over a bright city at night began to play. The helicopter clipped the arm off of the statue of Scorpions’ “Crazy World Tour” logo, a spaceman.
As the video played, fans whistled and cheered. The video segued into the performance, with visuals that gave appearance of the band’s black silhouettes jumping out of the helicopter. The lights over the crowd were blinding as Scorpions took the stage, immediately going into the song, “Going Out with a Bang,” from their 2015 album, Return to Forever. The backing screen proudly displayed “Scorpions” in Titanic-sized letters behind the legendary band. Nearly everyone in the audience stood up and rocked out. Lead singer Meine addressed the crowd before the third song, “Come on, Phoenix. I want to hear you!”
As the song “Make It Real” played, the entire screen behind the band displayed an American flag waving, with the silhouettes of the band jamming out. After five songs in, Scorpions did a 70s throwback with a mashup of songs, “Top of the Bill”, “Steamrock Fever”, “Speedy’s Coming”, and “Catch Your Train”. During the entire throwback, the screen was tie-dyed, and the name “Scorpions” flashed on and off the screen in multiple colors. It was almost dizzying to see the graphics move. The side screens were also incorporated, making it appear there were three of Meine in different colors as he sang, while the crowd indulged in a drug-like music high.
As “Send Me an Angel” from their 1990 album, Crazy World, began to sway the audience, Meine said, “I know you know the words. You can sing by heart. ‘Send Me an Angel’. Come on Phoenix. I want to see your hands in the air.” All over the venue, arms went up into the air, and some people held up drinks, their phones, and more sparsely, lighters in the air. Couples grew closer, even attempting to slow dance while standing in their row.
Scorpions played Motörhead’s title-track “Overkill” from the 1979 album, to honor the late English musician and singer-songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister who passed away in December of 2015. In honor of the singer, fans rose up their metal horns, and the primary LED screen flashed with a compilation of images of Lemmy throughout the song. After the touching tribute song, the drum stage began to rise as drummer Mikkey Dee, former member of Motörhead, rocked out on a drum solo.
As he murdered the drums and sent a shockwave of sound around the venue, cover art from all of the albums Scorpions have released in their music career fifty-three years slowly appeared on screen, one-by-one. A total of eighteen studio albums are currently under their belts.
In typical concert fashion, the best known songs were saved for last. “Big City Nights”, from their 1984 album Love at First Sting, got everyone up and jamming. Cities were displayed, as if the audience was taking a cruise through the heart of each big city. One city was Tokyo, which is actually the city that inspired the song. Scorpions stepped off the stage for a brief minute before coming back for the encore. The last two songs were “No One Like You” from their 1982 album, Blackout, and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” from the album, Love at First Sting. Before going into “No One Like You,” Meine teased fans by singing the first line of the song “Arizona” from their album, Blackout, and then praised the fans, “Phoenix, there is no one like you!”
The drums were amazing, the lights were blinding, the colors on the screen were hypnotizing, and the 70s mashup was a trip. — One might wonder what the show would have been like on an acid trip, while it’s no doubt that some long-time fans know exactly what that would be like. Scorpions, with special guests Queensrÿche, performed with great ferocity that resonated throughout the crowd and Comerica Theatre. This tour is a unique experience that’s worth every penny, and a must-see for every diehard classic rock fan.
Scorpions did not disappoint in Phoenix. They brought the house down and left fans of all ages happy to see this classic rock band. After the final song, the band waved to fans and gave out drumsticks and guitar picks. One lucky fan got a piece of autographed merch. Scorpions gathered in the middle of the stage, standing side-by-side, to wave at fans, and Meine closed out the night saying, “Goodnight Arizona. We love you!”
Photographer: Mark Greenawalt
Scorpions & Queensrÿche – Comerica Theatre 9-5-18
Photography © Mark Greenawalt. All Rights Reserved