At The Carling Academy, Newcastle, U.K., October 12, 2008

Last year’s phenomenal show by the Scorpions in Manchester was surely one of the major highlights of the live scene in the UK over the last 12 months and provided the springboard on which the Scorpions have launched their biggest headlining tour of the UK in almost two decades.

Like last year, the special guest slot was taken by the Michael Schenker Group but in Newcastle only, the remainder of the tour will feature former Scorpions legend, Uli Jon Roth. After his dismal showing which tarnished his golden reputation, hopes weren’t that high for anything other than a repeat performance from Schenker.

msg Well, how wrong everyone was! Michael Schenker strolled onto the stage looking sleeker and fitter than ever and the beaming smile throughout reflected his renewed vigor.

Accompanied by original MSG front man, Gary Barden all decked in a spangly game show host suit and guitarist Michael Voss amongst others, Schenker thrilled a packed and jubilant crowd with acoustic renditions of some of MSG’s finest moments with opener “Ready To Rock” followed in quick succession by a knockout triple whammy of “Cry For The Nations”, “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” and “Armed and Ready”. Sheer bliss for longstanding MSG fans.

Although acoustic renditions can often fall rather flat when compared to their electric counterparts, Schenker’s take on his back catalogue bristled with energy and the melodic, fluid solos that were so sadly missing last year were back in full flow.

msg Gary Barden, although not technically the greatest singer around, has the voice that compliments Schenker perfectly and some of the best material of Schenker’s career was written alongside Barden. The sight of Schenker and Barden standing side by side on stage together after so long was one welcomed by many in the crowd.

A couple of new songs slipped into the set, the best of which “Dance Lady Gypsy” bodes well for the future. Following “Rock My Nights Away” and “Looking Out From Nowhere” the set was brought to a sudden, premature end caused by the late opening of the doors due to the over running of the sound check.

msg As Schenker and his band took their bows, he was greeted this time not by a chorus of boos and jeers but with the rapturous roar of appreciation and clamors for more by a capacity crowd. In fact it’s been many a year since this sort of reception was witnessed for the opening act.

After last year’s debacle, it was heartening to see the reputation of Michael Schenker restored to its rightful place where it belongs alongside Rock’s elite guitarists.

The return of the Scorpions to Newcastle after their superb set co-headlining with Judas Priest a few years back was hugely anticipated. The Academy was well and truly packed to the rafters for this and was warmed up perfectly and ready to go following MSG’s superb set.

scorpions Prior to the tour the Scorpions invited the UK fans to vote for the set list, so it was interesting to see what they would come up with. In an exclusive interview with Metal Express Radio before the show, Rudolph Schenker had indicated that the set list picked by the fans pretty much mirrored the choice of the band but unfortunately there would be no place in the set for the titanic “China White”.

The set was pretty similar to that featured on last year’s shows with the “Tokyo Tapes” section dropped in favour of more post Lovedrive material.

Right from the opening notes of “Hour 1” and the frantic “Coming Home” the Scorpions exploded onto the stage in a veritable whirlwind of musical energy. The riffometer was cranked to 11 with a succession of genre defining riffs from the voice box powered “The Zoo” to the gang vocals of “Bad Boys Running Wild” this was Premier league Hard Rock at its very best.

scorpions Face The Heat’s “No Pain No Gain” rattled the rafters and a colossal “Coast to Coast”, one of the finest Rock instrumentals ever, kept the momentum soaring. The latter saw the return of Michael Schenker along with his trademark black and white Flying V in full electric mode alongside his animated brother, Rudolph. When Klaus Meine donned a guitar and joined the rest of the band at the front of the stage in a maelstrom of guitars it left the triple guitar attack of Southern Rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd in the shade. Let’s just think of that moment again…..FOUR guitarists and a bass player in a row cranking out the riffs. This is what Rock ‘n’ Roll is all about. What a shame that all of the photographers, including Metal Express Radio, had been booted out of the photo pit by this time as these moments would have provided the shots of the night.

As James Kottack’s huge gong took one hell of a hammering at the end of the song it was time to bring things down a touch with an emotional “Holiday” and when the crowd took over the song it was indeed a touching moment.

The “Lovedrive” theme continued with a delighted looking Michael Schenker remaining onstage as “Lovedrive” itself and “Another Piece of Meat” gave Schenker plenty of opportunity to let rip…and let rip he certainly did and when he left the stage for the final time of the night to a plethora of high fives from the band and a jubilant chant of “Schenker, Schenker!!” from the crowd , his recovery and rejuvenation was complete. Michael Schenker needed to do something special to wipe away the stains from last year and he delivered big time.

scorpions The Scorpions have an enviable back catalogue of classics so vast that they could probably do two or three different sets and still maintain a uniformly high standard throughout. Few bands can match that. The set list is literally bursting with classic material with the likes of the razor sharp riffing of “Make It Real”, the burgeoning “Dynamite” which featured a FIVE man drum solo and the anthemic “Big City Nights”, jostling with “Blackout” and “Loving You Sunday Morning” for the biggest kick ass riff of the night.

Not content to rest on their heritage, the Scorpions have come up with their finest album in years and “321” from Humanity:Hour 1 stands proudly alongside the more established songs with its heads down, balls to the wall riff.

scorpions Visually the Scorpions still dazzle. The energy levels never dip and there is more fire and passion in their performance than most bands a fraction of their age. Rudolph Schenker is a joy to watch. His infectious enthusiasm combined with every guitar hero pose in the book has made him an iconic figure in Rock. Mathias Jabs looks like he’s enjoying every second on stage with a permanent, broad grin as he lets rip with one great solo after another. Klaus Meine may be small in stature but his big voice is in fantastic shape, clear, powerful and melodic and so integral to the unique Scorpions sound. The “new” rhythm section of Pawel Maciwoda and James Kottack provides the base on which the Scorpions launch their Rock ‘n’ Roll assault.

scorpionsThe Scorpions have always had the knack of penning a quality ballad or two and with the encores “Still Loving You” and the mega hit “Winds of Change” complete with striking video imagery of the fall of the Berlin Wall, lighters were held aloft, lighting up the crowd.

Closing the show with “Rock You Like A Hurricane” does just what it says on the tin…this Rocks, big time. As Schenker leaps from the drum riser, racing from one side of the stage to the other, mouth ajar and furiously windmilling power chords the show comes to an end.

scorpionsAlmost 2 hours has flashed by in what seems like minutes. Always a good sign of a cracking gig and seeing the smiles and the fist pumping reactions from the crowd and hearing the excitable chatter sums up just how enjoyable a Scorpions gig is.

Rock ‘n’ Roll is supposed to fun and exciting and they don’t come much more exhilarating than this. The Scorpions truly are one of the greatest live bands ever to hit the stage.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.