Heading to the Budweiser Stage in Toronto to see Scorpions kick off their North American Tour, I was excited… and worried. I wanted them to rock me like a Hurricane… but not a lighting storm. Sadly, the latter was what was all over the weather apps, and emergency notifications had been sent out. Making the event even more challenging, was that it was situated right next to the  Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), which is Toronto’s massive annual carnival extravaganza. This meant no parking anywhere near the venue, and a possible mad dash to the GO Train in a storm to get home. Was it worth the risk? Hell yeah! It’s the damn Scorpions, and will I ever get to see them again,? I was all in. Worth noting if you missed the news, there was no Whitesnake on the schedule. They announced they were pulling out 3 weeks ago while David Coverdale dealt with some upper respiratory issues. That announcement turned this massive 80’s Metal Event into a Scorpions Concert. Would it have been amazing to see them together? Yes, 100%. Would it have been nice to see someone like Europe, or some other solid band jump on to replace them for this tour? Yep – but that was not the case.

Thundermother out of Stockholm, having recently canceled a bunch of tour dates in Europe, was staying on the tour, and that was going to be a solid two-part show. However, when we arrived at the show, we were told that Thundermother was not playing. They had to go to the bullpen to bring in local artist JJ Wilde at the last minute. Word was that Thundermother, had issues with their Visa for Canada or something to that effect. I am still trying to find out more. Putting all that in the past, it was time to get a look at JJ Wilde… from my seat. Sadly, they didn’t allow any photographers for her set, which was a shame as they had great energy. They will be playing the CNE Bandshell on August 25th and they are well worth checking out. JJ has a wonderfully raspy voice that worked well with the blues guitar. Her eight-song set was abbreviated by what I believe was the pending lightning storm threatening on the horizon.


JJ Wilde

JJ Wilde – Vocals

J.D. Smigelski (LH SR guitar)

Daniel Bossenberry – Guitar

Steve 0 Lavery – Bass

Mitch Miley – Drums




JJ Wilde Setlist:

1.) Trouble

2.) Off the Rails

3.) Home

4.) Mercy

5.) Best Boy

6.) Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Stevie Nicks cover)

7.) Red Flags (unreleased)

8.) The Rush


As JJ Wilde was heading off the stage, the first bolt of lightning could be seen off in the distance. The clouds had darkened, and the crowd began to murmur. The packed audience had already had a couple setbacks to the evening they had been looking forward to for months, and the idea of packing up and going home was not a pleasant one. The decision was made by the Budweiser Stage Officials to “shelter” till the lightning had passed. All the folks out on the lawn, moved down to fill the aisles and folks grabbed an extra beer to wait out the storm. Next to the concert venue, all carnival rides came to a halt as thousands of people were told to “seek shelter”. The Rock Gods, however, were with us as the storm passed quickly and it was announced that the Scorpions would take the stage at 9pm.

I rushed into my place at the end of the runway to catch the opening salvo on camera. They had a runway jetting out into the “pit” area of the venue. This would give them more room to play and put them deeper into their deserving fans. Finally, we were ready to rock and the double curtain dropped. The Scorpions exploded onto the stage. They launched into “Gas in the Tank” off their new album, Rock Believer, which was an interesting choice. Bands often rely on classics to ignite the crowd from the start, but clearly they have confidence in their new work, and they were right. The track has a solid driving beat and great melodies. From there they hit a pair of iconic tracks – “Make it Real” and “The Zoo” off 1980’s Animal Magnetism. The further they went into their set; I realized two things. DAMN, they had a ton of amazing tracks, and even better, the new tracks that I wasn’t as familiar with, were just as solid.   They went back even further into their catalogue, dipping into the 1979 album, Love Drive, and playing the instrumental “Coast to Coast,” which was another great track showcasing Rudolf Schenker’s driving riffs, and amazing talent. He took center stage alone out on the runway and was just dripping with guitar hero energy. The other two guitarists joined him at the end of the runway for the iconic guitar lineup pose. It was everything you want in a metal show.

They then pivoted back to their new album for a pair of songs “Seventh Sun” and “Peacemaker,” which again were solid and prompted me to hit the “Buy Now” button on Amazon. Sorry kids, I am old school and I still buy CDs. They played a total of 4 songs off the new album, adding the title track “Rock Believer” later in the set. Bands used to tour to support album sales, nowadays they put out an album to motivate a tour. Most bands will slide in a new song occasionally, but I loved that Scorpions showcased their new work in such a way that it made you listen more intensely since you were not too familiar with the songs. It was a nice way of saying, yeah, our new shit is good too, and we are not done yet. They slowed down for fan favorites “Send Me an Angel” and “Wind of Change”, sadly skipping “Still Loving You” which was my Junior Prom theme, and thus a personal favorite. Mikkey Dee has a very nice extended drum solo which was so vintage and bombastic that the audience stood for the entire thing. Pawel Maciwoda also had a solid bass solo as did Matthias Jabs. Klaus Meine was having so much fun with his cowbell throughout the night that it would even satisfy Will Ferrell’s quest for more cowbell. It was great to see Klaus play the tempo and then toss a drumstick into the crowd over and over making sure that each stick was “played.”

It was as if to say thanks for supporting us for all these years. It seems like such a small thing, but it was clear why I had become such a fan so many decades ago. The whole evening was a performance for the people that supported them through it all. From wars to pandemics – this was their way of saying thanks, and everyone thrived off that energy. They made sure that every photographer got a special pose and made certain everyone got the show they came for. It truly was classic Scorpions. Made me think back to my rebellious days as a teen and the reason why I bought the Love At First Sting album. No, not because it had 2 people doing it on the cover, but because Tipper Gore told me not to. You don’t tell a teen not to do something by banning an album cover. It just made me want it even more, which I am glad, as that was what propelled me to start my Scorpions adventure. The two song Encore of “No One Like You” and the explosive “Rock You Like A Hurricane” brought the set to a satisfying close. A phenomenal outing from the German Rock Legends.



Klaus Meine – Vocals

Rudolf Schenker – Guitars

Matthias Jabs – Guitars

Pawel Maciwoda – Bass

Mikkey Dee– Drums





Scorpions Setlist:

1.) Gas in the Tank

2.) Make It Real

3.) The Zoo

4.) Coast to Coast

5.) Seventh Sun

6.) Peacemaker

7.) Bad Boys Running Wild

8.) Delicate Dance

9.) Send Me an Angel

10.) Wind of Change

11.) Tease Me Please Me

12.) Rock Believer  (with bass and drum solo)

13.) Blackout

14.) Big City Nights


15.) No One Like You

16.) Rock You Like a Hurricane






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