Scorpions & Tesla in concert (The Final Sting World Tour) at Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT) – 7/9/12

I went to Connecticut last week to the Mohegan Sun Casino to see the Scorpions, with special guests Tesla, on the last leg of their farewell/retirement tour: The Final Sting World Tour. Nothing is worse than hearing that one of your favorite bands is calling it a career but I’ve learned that most bands can’t stay away for long (KISS comes to mind!). Unfortunately, the Scorpions are calling it a career and have been touring the world for the last three years to give fans all over a final taste of their great live show.

Is this really the end for the Scorpions? It’s anyone’s guess really. With both founding members Rudolf Schenker (guitars) and Klaus Meine (lead vocals) reaching age 64, and putting in 40 years into the band, I can see the point. Even long time guitarist Matthias Jabs (who joined in 1979) is in his mid-50s so maybe retirement is well deserved. Maybe this is the end of touring and perhaps the band will continue to record new music? No one knows except the band but I wasn’t risking my chance to see the Scorpions live one last time. Last summer they came to New Hampshire but the drive was close to 4 hours so I didn’t bother…..this time around it was only a 45 minute drive to Connecticut. I waited until a couple of days before the show to buy tickets and my friend and I got great seats (for only $44 each!) for what was one of three concerts left on the tour’s U.S. itinerary.

Tesla setlist:

Cumin’ Atcha Live
Edison’s Medicine
Hang Tough
Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
Mama’s Fool
Signs (cover of the Five Man Electrical Band)
Love Song
Modern Day Cowboy
Little Suzi (cover of Ph.D.)

You aren’t going to get a better opening band than Tesla and, to be honest, I expected a third band to open before Tesla. Tesla is still a headline act in small arenas and theaters so this was a great way to start. The band came out and just played, not a lot of bullshit talk between songs (KISS again!), just flat out, well-played Hard Rock. The setlist is your basic shortened hits package but it was cool to hear ‘Mama’s Fool’ off 1994′s BUST A NUT record…..that album always gets forgotten by many fans. You can’t really go wrong with big hits like ‘Love Song’, ‘Modern Day Cowboy’ and Hang Tough’ but I could have done without ‘Signs’. I know it’s the band’s second biggest hit (‘Love Song’ is #1) but it’s a cover and I never liked the original either…..I’ve hated that song since 1990 when the band released FIVE MAN ACOUSTICAL JAM and the single was all over the radio. Good to hear ‘Edison’s Medicine’ because I was kind of expecting either ‘What You Give’ or ‘Gettin’ Better’ but I was glad to hear the PSYCHOTIC SUPPER (1991) track. Of course the band ended with my favorite tune, ‘Little Suzi’, complete with the full acoustic intro like on the album. I know, I know…..it’s a cover song too but I never knew that until a few years ago so I’m going to give it a pass. The band was tight, they sounded great and they just plain kicked ass! nothing is better than a band coming out and just playing without all the gimmicks and fanfare (sorry, KISS reference again!). One last thought, for being the oldest guy in the band, Jeff Keith looks and sounds just like he did back in 1986.

Scorpions setlist:

Sting In The Tail
Make It Real
Is There Anybody There?
The Zoo
Coast To Coast (instrumental)
Loving You Sunday Morning
Rhythm Of Love
Wind Of Change
Holiday
Raised On Rock
Tease Me Please Me
Hit Between The Eyes
Kottak Attack (drum solo)
Blackout
Six String Sting (Matthias Jabs guitar solo)
Big City Nights

Encore
Still Loving You
No One Like You
Rock You Like A Hurricane

Now if you’re going to see the Scorpions in the U.S. then THIS is the setlist you want to hear! The band played hit after hit effortlessly and they sounded perfect. ‘Rhythm Of Love’, ‘Wind Of Change’, ‘Tease Me Please Me’, ‘Hit Between The Eyes’, ‘Big City Nights’ and the entire encore…..that was as long as Tesla’s set and it was MTV video and radio hit time as if we were back in 1991 and the band was touring then. The cool thing is that they had just as much energy now as they did then! The band did throw in a few older songs (but nothing before 1979!) with ‘Make It Real’, ‘Loving You Sunday Morning’, the ‘Coast To Coast’ instrumental and the signature song ‘The Zoo’ so it felt like I was witnessing the WORLD WIDE LIVE album from 1985 right in my face. The big surprise for me was that they played ‘Is There Anybody There?’ from LOVEDRIVE (1979)…..a great track but I figured the band would play either ‘Lovedrive’ or ‘Another Piece of Meat’. Actually, I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play either but you can only fit so much into two hours and they might have omitted the two newer songs ‘Sting In The Tail’ and ‘Raised On Rock’. Even though they are retiring, it was good to see the Scorpions playing new material and promoting the STING IN THE TAIL album. Even though the record is a couple of years old now, this Final Sting World Tour is also about promoting that album and that makes the band more legit in my eyes rather than a straight up nostalgia act.

Now the stage show was minimal because it’s all about the music but the band did have an amazing light show with plenty of big screens to see all the action but what set the band apart is the runway down the center of the floor that put the band right in the middle of the crowd. Everyone was up and down that part of the stage bringing the concert right in your face! There was no pyro which was fine because the lighting was really great, probably one of the best stage lighting programs I’ve seen in my 30+ year concert career. The band had a cool historical intro on the video screens with some big historical moments in Scorpions history like the US Festival in 1983 and the Berlin Wall coming down in the early ’90s but the best part of the on screen entertainment was during James Kottak’s drum solo. The Kottak Attack was your basic drum solo, complete with drum riser that mimicked the Peter Criss drum riser during his days with KISS, but what made it cool was Kottak was filmed re-enacting some of the band’s most famous album covers: LOVE AT FIRST STING, FLY TO THE RAINBOW, LOVEDRIVE, ANIMAL MAGNETISM, PURE INSTINCT, CRAZY WORLD, BLACKOUT and more. To see Kottak in the limo with a woman and then is be a mannequin that his hand was stuck to with bubblegum…..that was a priceless rendition of the LOVEDRIVE cover! Add the antics to his powerful drumming and it’s a hard combination to beat. His rhythm partner Pavel Macidowa helped him keep the beat and added some youthful (and I mean 40′s youthful!) energy to the show. The older guard of Schenker, Meine and Jabs weren’t to be out done because they were running around the stage and they sounded perfect. Schenker and Jabs sounded flawless and I seriously mean that. Schenker rocked back and forth maiming that Flying V while Matthias effortlessy made his Gibson Explorer sing…..two totally underrated guitar players and definitely overshadowed by two other famous Scorpions alums Uli Jon Roth and Rudolf’s brother Michael Schenker. I personally think Klaus Meine stole the show because I expected a slight drop off vocally but the man can sing as well as he did back in the day and it seemed effortless. You’ve got guys like Paul Stanley, Don Dokken, even Geoff Tate, who have had great singing voices throughout their careers but now have trouble in concert…..not Klaus though, the guy was a 64 year old singing machine that didn’t sound a day over 30!

All in all…..a great show. Both bands rocked hard and proved that good Rock music stands the test of time. It’s a shame that bands have to get older and eventually retire, the Scorpions proved that after 40 years they are still masters of the arena. If this is the end, I’m glad I was able to catch them one last time.