An atmosphere of genuine excitement envelopes a Melbourne crowd, sheltered by The Palais walls from the winter-esque winds this a historic Spring evening. Excitement and eager anticipation brought about by the presence of Scorpions to play their first Australian Tour. What more august chamber to house such a propitious occasion, with some people present being of similar vintage and conversely, for others their first exposure to a live performance at all. And who more fitting than the legendary Scorpions to the acquaint young hearts and minds to the majesty of a genuinely astounding live performance, for that’s what was about to be received. A Teutonic rock triumph of epic proportions.
As explained to me by Matthias Jabs in a pre-visit interview, which can be found here, it is not their first visit to Australia, but their very first tour appearance. So no need for fillers, nor supports and no guiding of the lily. These are rock legends, and tonight accompanied by fellow legend and metal drumming royalty in Mikkey Dee. The eager audience keep bot on the spot as directed by the pre-show announcements, but as the Scorpions appeared stage front, too many had been waiting too long for this occasion and honored the Scorpions with a standing reception. No need for seats, our appreciation cannot be contained as Going Out With A Bang opens proceedings. To see the graphic of an Australian flag behind the band was a most satisfying sight indeed.
I am helpless to contain my excitement as such a staple of rock and metal performs live for their humble followers and all with the words of Lemmy reverberating in my mind, “The best drummer in the world…Mikkey Dee”. This is absolutely unforgettable. By the time The Zoo echoes forth, a further profound realisation presents to the fore, namely the quality of delivery. As many groups of vintage rely more on name than skill to draw in a crowd, here we are treated to a sensational spectacle of craft mastery from one and all. In fact, the stage graphics, the lighting, the sound and the performance from these wizards, and I thought my expectations could not possibly be exceeded. All so magnificently presented and oozing professional from every pore. As I look around the crowd and notice a distinct lack of moshing and hard rocking, I realise I am not the only one present in profound and bewildered awe. Mouth agape and stunned. An occasional return to consciousness for a little air guitar and then back an almost trance-like state of satisfied perplexity born of the superb Scorpions sensation coupled with the struggle to accept this as reality. Honestly, and only if for me, that’s how this performance felt.
Coast To Coast, Top Of the Bill this is truly an even matched only by the instrumental and vocal deliveries. I was ready to forgive Klaus any vocal capacity lost to time, but nothing. Not an ounce of his ability had been claimed by passing years. Simply incredibly superb. And following a Matthias guitar spectacular, we all assembled help Jahre celebrate the arrival of his 60th year with a crowd rendition of Happy Birthday led by Klaus.
Mikkey leaves his position aloft at the kit and descends to stage for some acoustic celebration of the bands more moving ballads, including none other than the decades of call for peace in Wind Of Change. But will the timely interlude completed and Mikkey mopped dry, we launch straight into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in superb style.
Just as I feel that I have calmed enough to actually absorb some of this amazing performance as being manifest in reality, rather than an imagined dreamscape, the band take my breath from my body yet again. A tribute to the late Motorhead legend Lemmy Kilmister. We have heard many tributes since the sad day that mortal rock world lost its king, but this time with his band mate Mikkey Dee at the kit made this very, very special indeed. Mikkey playing Overkill, backed by images of Lemmy cause me to refrain from an extended description lest my words bear evidence that there was more than a single tear in the eye. Just amazing and a brilliantly fitting ode from living legends to legend passed. But Mikkey launches into a solo spectacular of percussive magnificence. Accompanied by a brilliant lighting display, Mikkey wows us from aloft but seems to scarcely break a sweat despite his furious assault. Again, a profoundly thrilling display of a master at work. Additionally, it is the constant invitations and enticement from Mikkey for the crowd to get even more involved, that sets him apart as a true maestro of the live rock show. To watch Mikkey is a sensational treat all on its own, but tonight with Scorpions launches the performance into legendary status.
Quite honestly, if the show finished here at midpoint, I would not have walked away disappointed at all. The fact that the show continued on with subsequent displays of performance prowess, professionalism and timing to perfection, was additional thrill and felt like more than one could have possibly hoped for. I have no clue how many aspiring or current performers graced the crowd with their presence, but rest assured they received a master class in how to convene a rock ‘n’ roll show.
Blackout, No One Like You and Big City Nights built to a perfect show crescendo, but with Rock You Like A Hurricane absent, all present knew the show was not over. Following bows, resounding applause, front row gifts of picks and sticks and roars of appreciation, we are treated to the encore. Where a guitar toting intruder managed to find access to stage central during Still Loving You remains a security mystery but needless to say, the band kept performing into the magnificent climax. Indeed, they rocked us like a hurricane.
This historic show was a magnificent spectacle that managed to exceed my expectations and thrill me in every possible way. Rare is the performance that sends lightening like sensation through my veins has me wide awake for hours following, but this Scorpions show did exactly that. A true masterclass from seasoned legends one and all. An evening of Scorpions dedicated magnificence along with an unexpected opportunity to join with Mikkey, live in Australia to farewell Lemmy, and celebrate his legacy. All the Scorpions hits spanning decades of rock celebration and performed to perfection.
My only regret is that every music aficionado in Australia could not attend this monumental night and share in the sensation. But, I fear a multi-city tour would not have captured the same atmosphere and made this performance nearly as profoundly distinct and memorable as it was. But lets face it any Scorpions visit to Australia is always going to be historic and sensational. Decades of waiting, celebrating their music from afar, all now at an end. Please, please Rudolf, Klaus, Matthias Pawel and Mikkey, come back soon for a multi-city tour and let all witness some semblance of the brilliance we witness this day. Simply put, utterly amazing.