Whitesnake - The Scorpions
Qudos Bank Arena
Sydney, Australia February 26, 2020
Resilient rockers smash rescheduled gig
The much anticipated Whitesnake / Scorpions Australian tour was always going to be a quick one with just three dates along the east coast capitals. That schedule looked to become even shorter when Scorpions frontman Klause Meine fell ill after the opening show in Melbourne. But after surgery on some nasty kidney stones, a stint of much needed bed rest and quick rescheduling, Meine was back on stage a week later at a bustling Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.
First things first though and that was Whitesnake who, as the last strains of The Who’s My Generation faded from the house PA, launched like a coiled spring into a frenetic Bad Boys. David Coverdale, amazingly sprightly at 68, owned both the catwalk and arena. It's pretty remarkable that a guy who has fronted rock royalty for close to four decades - starting with Deep Purple in 1973 - still sounds great taking on tough vocal material. A few parts were re-arranged but Coverdale’s trademark baritone rasp was as recognisable as ever. Speaking of vocals, the entire band’s bv’s were on point and aided by a mostly excellent front of house mix. Special mention must go to bassist Michael Devin who not only wailed on his black Rickenberg all night but took on some of the extra high vocal parts with ease.
Whitesnake’s guitar alumni is a star studded affair with names like Vai, Sykes, Vandenberg, Moody and Aldrich to name a few. The current guitar team of Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach pay respect to this six (occasionally seven) string heritage whilst still putting their own stamp on things. Case in point, Beach - an 18 year ‘Snake veteran - adding deft whammy flourishes and legato tapping to the classic Here I Go Again solo and Hoekstra’s multi-fingered tap approach. The guitar tones were massive - Hoekstra rotating a trio of Les Pauls with a custom Strat and Beach rocking a variety of Suhr Modern S - Styles. Extra geeky fans would have noticed a quilted maple Suhr with an angular pickguard that, intentionally or not, echoed some of the visual aesthetic of Beach’s signature Ibanez Voyagers that he played back in Winger’s heyday.
Not surprisingly, Whitesnake’s self titled 1987 smash album featured heavily in the set, and older material like Ain’t No Love in the City was a standout. That said, a trio of tunes from the 2018 album Flesh and Blood were also well received by the vocal crowd. An epic In The Still of the Night closed out a massive 90 minute set.
The Scorpions are easily continental Europe’s most enduring rock act with a huge global following so it’s surprising that this was their first ever Sydney show.
Vocalist Klause Miene - who with founding guitarist Rudolph Schenker has appeared on every Scorpions album in 50 plus years - looked in great form post surgery. Like Coverdale, his recognizable vocal timbre still passes the blindfold test. Miene seemed genuinely grateful to be back on stage and even apologised for the aborted 2018 Australian shows. He must have thrown a few dozen drumsticks out into the crowd that graced his occasional cowbell playing.
The lineup of Schenker, longtime lead player Matthias Jabs and the rhythm section of Mickey Dee and Pawel Macidowa attacked the set with teenage-like enthusiasm. Schenker - playing his trademark Flying Vs, even an acoustic V for the unplugged Send Me An Angel - made particularly good use of the catwalk. His meaty rhythm guitar propels the Scorpions not unlike the late Malcolm Young’s role in AC/DC. Matthias Jabs wielded a pair of custom Dommenget explorers whilst dishing out tasty blues rock leads. A couple of Strats were also employed, most notably in the hooks of the crowd favorite, Winds of Change.
The Scorpion’s FOH team went to town with endless graphics and a light show direct from 1985. They don’t call them crowd blinders for nothing. The mix was punchy, but loud and all that grinding mid range guitar got a little painful at times.
Nonetheless, with a rabid fanbase ensconced in the moshpit singing along note for note it was obvious that die-hard Aussie fans were making the most of this night.
And 48 hours later, I’m still humming Rock You Like A Hurricane.
Guitar Speak Podcast
Thanks To Val MacIver of VMPR
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