From The Pit To The Crowd: The Scorpions with Queensryche – Amalie Arena – September 14, 2018

After almost a year of waiting, residents of Tampa Florida got to finally see the Crazy World Tour. The initial date was set as October 15th, 2017, but due to Scorpions lead singer Klaus Meine coming down with laryngitis, the band had to cancel the last 5 dates of their trek across the states last year.  In the 2017 leg, the supporting band was Megadeth, but with the cancellations and rescheduling, they had to find a different support act for this go round. Enter Queensryche, an American band from Bellevue, Washington.

Queensryche had the privilege of opening this show as the last night of a two week run with the Scorpions. The vocalist, Todd la Torre stated that it was an honor to play shows with their German friends in the Scorpions, whom they have toured with a few times over the years. Todd was by far the most energetic of the entire band and was headbanging and moving all about the stage, as most of the others were fairly stationary. Guitarist, Mike Stone, came towards the middle at times and would show off with his best rock poses and stage moves.

Casey Grillo was filling in for Scott Rockenfield on this tour.  The hardware of his drum kit held up the cymbals and toms were all made from curved and twisted steel tubing. He had this unique drum kit custom built by SawbladeHead Designs ( http://www.sawbladeheaddesigns.com/ ) in St Petersburg Florida. To me, the drum set was the most eye-catching one I have seen in quite some time and was a fantastic centerpiece to the Queensryche stage.

Once they began the third song, Empire, the crowd woke up as did the band. Much more movement from them all and the fans were singing along loudly. It seemed to me they focused on playing older material that the fans would know better.  I believe they were a great opener and fit the bill nicely.

The five-piece band played to an arena that was fairly empty to start, but steadily growing as more people got to their seats. By the end of their set, it was looking more like a rock show should. People on the floor were standing instead of sitting in the seats, some dancing in the aisles and open area towards the back of the floor.

Queensryche Setlist:

Best I Can
The Needle Lies
Empire
Guardian
Silent Lucidity
Queen of the Reich
Jet City Woman
Screaming in Digital
Eyes of a Stranger

As the lights dropped inside Amalie Arena, the curtain in front of the stage did as well. The first sounds we could hear were that of a helicopter. Patrons looked around in anticipation, then the video screens came alive with footage of the helicopters they were hearing. Chains were hanging from the digital helicopters, and as the lights came on, we could finally see there were real ones attached to the drummer’s platform. It was as if they lowered him into place to start the show. Drummer Mikkey Dee was the first to appear on stage to a roar from the crowd. Rudolf Schenker emerged next and followed by the rest of the band as they started into Going Out With A Bang. During the guitar solo, the singer grabbed a tambourine and was walking the stage shaking it at everyone in the front row, smiling and happy as can be. The joy he and the rest of the guys had playing was very apparent. As the set continued, the crowd was asked to help sing along more often, specifically to start the third song of the night, Is There Anybody There?.  Vocalist Klaus Meine came out on the catwalk and thrust his microphone out over the crowd hoping to catch some of the sound filling the venue.  I was pretty impressed at how good he sang throughout the whole night. To me, he was hitting all the notes but just sounded a tad bit nasally from allergies. It did not affect his energy or ability to belt out the words at all. I was thinking to myself that if I could be enjoying life and sound as good at he does, at nearly 70 years old, I would be happy.

Send Me An Angel was a nice break in the setlist with the band breaking out acoustic guitars and slowing it down a bit. I loved seeing Rudolf with his signature flying V guitar in an acoustic form, A first for me seeing such a drastic shaped acoustic guitar. From someone who attends a ton of shows each year, it is refreshing to notice different things here and there in shows that aren’t just cookie cutter and “normal”.

The band had recently recruited drummer Mikkey Dee, formerly of Motorhead, and saw it as a perfect opportunity to play a tribute to his former band member, the late Lemmy Kilmister. The video boards in the background showed pictures of Lemmy throughout the years as they played.  Overkill was a great song choice and seemed to surprise most of the crowd. After the conclusion of it, Mikkey played a drum solo, in which his platform raised into the air from the chains dangling from the rafters. Smoke billowed out of the base he was on as if it was a rocket taking off into the sky.

Another interesting thing that I noticed was the guitar played by Rudolf, had a smoke trail coming from it as he ran side to side across the stage during the song Blackout. It was subtle but a cool thing that I have not seen before in all the concerts I have ever attended.

The last 3 songs were the loudest all night from the crowd singing along. Big City nights was one that all the fans were waiting to hear since the band hit the stage.  As the song rang out the band left the stage and everyone cheered relentlessly for them to come back and play longer. When they all reemerged, it got extremely loud and they went right into No One Like You.

As ironic as it is, the final song of the night seemed a little grim due to Florence bearing down on the Carolina’s and causing panic all through the southeast. Regardless, the Scorpions did rock us like a hurricane in the best way possible and concluded the night on an incredible high note.

It is truly impressive that this band has been around for 50 years and still going strong. I could see how much fun they were all having and even at almost 70, how could you not have a blast playing loud rock music to thousands of people singing every word.

Some of the fans who had bought tickets to see the Scorpions were still as excited for it nearly a year and a half after it was first announced back in March of 2017.  With such a long wait, the anticipation was at an all-time high for this show and it was well worth it. Fans leaving the arena afterward were still buzzing and chatting amongst themselves with big smiles on their faces and one even mimicking a guitar solo with an air guitar.

Scorpions Setlist:

Going Out With a Bang
Make It Real
Is There Anybody There?
The Zoo
Coast to Coast
Top of the Bill / Steamrock Fever / Speedy’s Coming / Catch Your Train
We Built This House
Delicate Dance
Send Me an Angel
Wind of Change
Tease Me Please Me
Overkill (Motörhead cover)
Drum Solo
Blackout
Big City Nights

Encore:
No One Like You
Rock You Like a Hurricane