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Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisIt's funny how a band's experience with a city can come full circle, especially in the case of Scorpions' relationship with Chicago. For starters, the Windy City was amongst the first ever American avenue these German powerhouses ever played and it just so happened to be twenty-nine years ago to the exact date of this particular return trip. Add in the fact that Sunday's show was the band's final stop on its 2008 U.S. tour, and the fiery fivesome pulled out all the stops throughout a snarling 90-minute set.
Unlike most old school metal acts touring purely for nostalgia's sake, Scorpions consistently release new material and attempt to evolve with the times, with the recent Humanity- Hour 1 (New Door) sounding more in line with a distorted Dream Theater than its 70s contemporaries. And the new project's proven to be quite popular with the heavy handed melodic rock stratosphere, earning almost as much applause on tour as the group's tried and true shredding standards.
The progressive thunder crashes of "Hour 1" opened the evening with wild fist pumping and front man Klaus Meine growling with his distinct accent in arena filling excellence. A dip back to the infamous Love At First Sting yielded "Coming Home," which found the furious rhythm section gearing into additional overdrive, while "The Zoo" also scalded with its militant riffs intact. The pair of current cuts "321" and "Humanity" still held the crowd's attention, with the latter track benefiting from fast action war footage on a giant screen to mirror its ominous message of a fallen society.
Even amidst all these productive strides, there were a few dips in the road, starting with the super-charged power ballad "Send Me An Angel." Aside from its clichˇd nature, Meine stretched to reach the high notes and provided a barely passable version at best. Drummer James Kottak also turned in a capable though stereotypical drum solo that went truly over the top as all his other bandmates entered the stage's second level to beat away during an over exaggerated finale. Outside of going on for ten minutes too long, the time would've been much better suited for two or three other tunes from the band's exhaustive back catalogue.
Thankfully the initial closer "Big City Nights" and encores like "No One Like You" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane" were all delivered with increased intensity, plus enough audience assistance to push the decibel levels well past the venue's neighboring rows of expansive skyscrapers. And hearing those golden oldies in present tense also was a testament to Scorpions' staying power, especially as part of a genre that has its dated tendencies and finds several acts straddling the line of self-parody. But a band doesn't sell 70 million albums or become its countries' most popular export of all time by accident and Scorpions still manage to keep its sting amongst changing tides.
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