I hate to sound like an old guy, but the first thing I noticed was the ample and easily navigated free parking at the Citizens Bank Arena in lovely Ontario California; and that the tailgating was relaxed and peaceful (complete opposite of the most recent Iron Maiden show I went to)…. and you know what? I liked  it! I grew up on hard rock, heavy metal and punk rock so I am no stranger to rock and roll danger, but the absence of that feeling was refreshing. When my buddy Seany “Two Pops” and I went in through the press entrance we were met by two really sweet ladies; both senior citizens who if push came to shove could have whooped up on us, so we minded our P’s and Q’s believe you me!

On to the show: We were a tad late, so we only got to hear two songs by seminal glam rockers Cinderella (not so glammed up in 2010 but still fashionably cool). What impressed me about Cinderella was how hard they rocked on Nobody’s Fool and Shake Me. As with any opening band, they have to go out with an abbreviated set, lower overall decibels, and no jumbo-tron screens or special effects to speak of. So when I heard Tom Keifer’s voice and saw him running across the stage giving it all he’s got, it left no doubt in my mind that they are a real rock force and should be seen if possible. In short – and I’m sure many years too late – after only two songs I became a Cinderella fan, and I will go see them again when I can catch the whole set.

Scorpions blasted onto the stage in a dazzling array of sound and vision, and immediately took me back to the summer of 1982 and my Sony cassette Walkman, playing Blackout over and over in the blistering hot Salinas California sun. (I chopped a Rattlesnake in half with a shovel while rocking to the title track. But I digress.)

It is always the sign of a great band when they can transform the environment and take you to another place. I was not the only one under the spell of the mighty Scorps, as fists were pumping and sing along choruses were being chanted (and screamed in some cases). Scorpions have announced that this will be last tour, and sadly I know it’s true. When Klaus Meine dedicated a beautiful acoustic rendition of Send Me An Angel to the late great Ronnie James Dio, I knew I was witnessing the end of an era.

As expected, we were all treated to a smorgasbord of Scorpion hits including No One Like You, Tease Me Please Me, Still Loving You, Bad Boys Running Wild, Holiday, The Zoo, Dynamite, Blackout, Big City Nights, and of course –  for the big goodbye – Rock You Like a Hurricane. We were also treated to a few choice cuts off the most recent and awesome Sting In The Tail (previously reviewed at a 5 out of 5). Raised on Rock and Sting In The Tail were great additions to the overpowered rock set, but it wasn’t until they played the power ballad The Best Is Yet to Come that reality set in….that this in fact is the end of one of the greatest hard rock/heavy metal bands of all time.

One of the greatest things about Scorpions is that even if you’ve never heard one of their songs, by the one-third point you would know the sing along parts and could immediately identify it as one of “your” songs. This kind of song-crafting is so much harder to accomplish than it seems, and it is a talent that I have not noticed in most of the harder bands out there. (Sure, pop crap has that… but we don’t really need more Lady Gaga, do we?)

California’s own James Kottak had a fun and funny video-accompanied drum solo on his levitating drum platform. At the end of the solo he proudly proclaimed three little words: “You Kick Ass!” …And we really do!  So, ya know, we were like, yup… that’s true.

Later we got blasted by a scorching Matthias Jabs solo complete with dive bombs.

Rudolf Schenker seems to have limitless energy, running and leaping all over the stage throwing windmills galore. This guy is a true rock guitarist. It seems like he feels every chord. Pawel Maciwoda kept the low end in check on bass, and for the most part just hung in the background.

As expected, Scorpions played like the well-oiled rock and roll machine that they are, and it was a celebration for the band and the fans alike. After a long and storied career, Scorpions are bidding us farewell with a last big bang. See this show before it’s too late!

Scorpions – You will be missed. Thank you for the fantastic memories.

5 Anarchy symbols (out of 5) J.S.L.

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