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Riding into the Sun

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It was approximately 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Raley Field in Sacramento as fans awaited the members of headlining band The Scorpions to perform one of their last concerts in their illustrious career.

These German-based rockers hail from the city of Hanover. They have endured nearly five decades of staying power and stood strong despite several lineup changes during their tenure.

As the lights started to power up and the power chords started strumming, a rush of adrenaline filled the night air. As this occurred, I happily reminisced.

I did not get into their music until the early ’80s when they released their bestselling album to date, “Blackout.”

I recalled guitarist Rudy Schenker in the video for the song “No One Like You” As the MTV era began.

Known for his wild smile, the mustached metallist is seen running around Alcatraz in a straightjacket with two bent forks over his eyes.

It was the strangest thing I saw at the time. I have no idea if the video had anything to do with the song, as most videos are a matter of the artists’ expressions, but I liked it anyway.

What amazed me was The Scorpions’ ability to establish hard riffs combined with lead singer Klaus Meine’s melodic vocals. He definitely has an incredible range.

So as I awaited the first song, I hoped he still had the pipes and, I am happy to report, he did, and The Scorpions are as technically sound as they always have been.

I chatted with some folks and obtained their perspectives.

One fan, Elise Perez, said she too had gotten into the Scorps back in the early ’80s when they toured with Twisted Sister. Since then, she has always been a fan and enjoys all their music from that decade.

Another face in the crowd, Andy Kimberly, said he was a fan ever since he heard their “Savage Amusement” record in the late ‘80s.

A member of the band Audioboxx, based in Reno, he and his band took time off to catch the farewell tour.

He noted that the Scorpions songs changed to include positive things to sing about rather than the sex, drugs and booze that is so typical with metal music.

So what was to like? The background video screen did a retrospective of the decades, highlighting the albums and the themes associated with them.

The current drummer, James Kottak, was the key figure of the digital collage. Even Rudy Schenker, who currently sports platinum-blonde hair, took time during the song “Blackout” to wear the costume he made so famous.

However, the best thing that capped off an incredible performance was when Warren DeMartini, Bobby Blotzer and Stephen Pearcy of Ratt and Jeff Keith of Tesla joined The Scorpions to sing “Rock You Like a Hurricane” for the finale.

Combined, they represented one of the most prestigious periods of rock and roll, when disco was fading out and new wave challenged the rock/metal scene for radio/video airplay supremacy.

Has it really been that long? To me, this genre never aged and sounds as current as the times. But we all get to that point where age dictates our direction, and now, for one of the best bands of that age, it is time to say goodbye and move on to retirement.

Guys, I thank you for the memories, and good luck in the next stage of your lives, wherever that may lead!
 

Photos by Ahsan Awan

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