In an old Saturday Night Live skit, Will Ferrell portrays fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle. During a recording session, the band’s producer (played by Christopher Walken) repeatedly encourages him to provide “a little more cowbell.” It’s a funny segment that forever makes the cowbell into a rock ’n’ roll joke. Scorpions singer Klause Meine either hasn’t seen the skit or just doesn’t give a damn. Last night before a near-capacity crowd at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica, he relentlessly hammered away at the thing, often throwing his drumsticks into the crowd. It was symbolic of the band’s old school arena rock approach. Decked out in tight black leather pants with bandanas hanging out of their back pockets, the guys did their best to relive heavy metal’s glory days during an entertaining two-hour show. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here
The concert got off to a rather rough start as Meine’s vocals initially sounded too thin. On the show opener “Going Out with a Bang,” he could barely be heard in the sound mix. He warmed up quickly, however, and by “The Zoo,” a signature tune from the ’80s, he was in good form and the band capably jammed at the tune’s conclusion. The group then revisited the ‘70s for a medley that included tunes such as “Top of the Bill” and “Steamrock Fever.” Meine prefaced the medley by recalling the band’s first appearance in the States, a performance in 1979 at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. “World Series of Rock, baby!” he yelled enthusiastically.
Mid-set, the guys unplugged their electric guitars for an acoustic medley that included a touching rendition of “Send Me an Angel” that showed off Meine’s soaring vocals. The acoustic set nicely prefaced “Wind of Change,” a power ballad that began with a bit of acoustic guitar and turned into an engaging crowd sing-a-long. After a lengthy drum solo during which James Kottak’s kit rose several feet in the air, the band returned for a hard-hitting rendition of “Blackout” that had several audience members playing along on air guitar. The group closed the set with the melodic hit “Big City Nights.” It saved its two biggest hits — “Still Loving You” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane” — for the encore.
Touring to celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Scorpions have become one of rock’s most enduring acts. While the songs from the ’70s and early ‘80s rocked harder than the ones from the late ’80s and ’90s, the guys proved they’re still plenty capable of entertaining an audience. But as original members Meine and guitarist Rudolf Schenker approach 70, perhaps now is as good a time as any to hang up the cowbell.
Veteran prog rockers Queensryche opened with a 45-minute set that enabled them to show off the incredible pipes of singer Todd La Torre, who joined the group three years ago and has given the band a good second wind.