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Impact Arena, Bangkok, Thailand 10 February 2011

''Let me take you far away...You like a holiday', so sang the Scorpions on their 1978 classic album 'Lovedrive', and yes I most certainly do like a holiday far away in the land of smiles of Thailand.  A country I've been visting each year for the past seventeen years and when I saw that the Scorpions were playing a one-off Asian date especially for the Thai people I was on that plane quicker than it takes to get rocked by a hurricane.

The Scorpions are by far the biggest heavy rock band in Thailand, selling more records than the likes of Metallica and AC/DC and as for Iron Maiden, the Thai's think Eddie is a tourist in Koh Samui.

The Scorpions
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It's the ballads rather than the rockers that the Scorpions are so well known for in this country. Almost a day dosn't past where you'll be sitting in a restaurant or bar and you'll be listening to the Scorpions with the locals singing along.

Even in the most remotest village, people will know the music of the Scorps if not the band.

You'll be lucky to get more than three rock acts a year playing in the big city nights of Bangkok, but the city of angels is starting to rock with big names such as Eric Clapton, Deftones, Eagles, New Found Glory, Santana, Zakk Wylde, Slash all making plans to rock the capital in the first part of this year.

This is the very last time the Scorpions will play in Thailand and this date is part of their 'Get Your Sting & Blackout Farewell Tour' ending what has been an electrifying 40 year career for the band.

The Scorpions
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You would think that playing in a city that is infamous for it's bad ladyboys running wild that the Scorps would opt to play 'He's A Woman(She's A Man) in dedication to the much observed and loved 'katoey', but the Scorps don't do crass anymore, these days the band have much more class.

In fact they are the ambassadors of the heavy rock community.  Earlier the band paid a visit to Government House to have an audience with Thai prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva where they presented him with a fully signed Flying V guitar.  (Cool,now if only I was a prime minister somewhere.)

The Impact Arena is a little smaller than Wembley Arena. Outside the atmosphere is reaching fever pitch with many lining up to have their picture taken with a giant Scorpions poster. There's food stalls aplenty selling spicy food and Chang have specially made Scorpions cans of beer for sale which go down a treat. All this whilst a live band outside keeps us entertained with some rock classics.

Inside the arena I was amazed how easy it was to get near the front. The Thai's are a polite society and don't seem too happy later on once the gig starts when some other 'farangs' push their way to the front barging everyone out of the way, especially when Johnny come lately is considerably taller than the lovely Thai ladies standing next to me (Well to be precise, I was standing next to them.) but 'mai pen rai' as they say in this relaxed carefree country.

The Scorpions explode onto the stage with the title track of their latest album 'Sting In The Tail' . No expense is spared as the band have brought their full stage show to the appreciative crowd. Despite a forty year career , the furthest the band dip into their catalogue are tracks from the hard hitting classic 'Lovedrive' including the instrumental 'Coast To Coast' and the riff-tastic 'Loving You Sunday Morning'.

The band are as energetic as ever, making full use of the stage and running up the ramp into the crowd to a ecstatic reaction to those near the front. Rudolf Schenker with his deadly six string sting throws all the shapes that puts men half his age to shame.

The electronic backdrop illuminates with the words 'THE ZOO' in big capital letters which gets all hands in the air. Singer Klaus Meine does his usual trick throwing out many drum sticks for fans to clamour over, trying their best to grab hold of one of this prized souvenir gems.

Before the show I did wonder if the band would play all those ballads which are so well known in this country, and if they did, would they dilute the set?

I needn't have worried because the Scorpions are true professionals at the top of their game. I was surprised how many here knew the words to new song 'The Best Is Yet To Come' which ensured the first sing-along.

'Holiday' is a song that you'll find in any popular karaoke bar here is warmly greeted. 'Wind Of Change' finds more voices joining in, and although the Thai's have trouble twisting their tongue's to the Western language, they sing with compassion.

The band rock out with a explosive 'Dynamite' followed by James Kottak's drum solo which impresses everyone, he even splits the arena in two to see who is the loudest. Kottak was on fire tonight.

Schenker emerges with his head bandaged with forks covering his eyes recreating the iconic image of 'Blackout' ,another headbanging delight before ending a pulsating set with 'Big City Nights' with Bangkok emblazoned on the neon screen.

Time for a breather for the encore and boy did we need it. 'Still Loving You' is a power ballad classic. I was singing every word to this number and was I rewarded by having my ugly mug broadcast on the big screen behind the band.  Classic stuff.

The Scorpions
Our Man in Bangkok, we had him screened first...

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A song the band haven't played for a while was especially performed for the Thais. An acoustic 'Always Somewhere' was sublime. It was during this number that bizarrely a Common Moorhen (A bird lager than a pidgeon.) fell flaplessly from the roof and landed smack in the middle of Kottak's drum kit, not that the drummer noticed a thing. The bird happily stayed there until the band stormed into 'Rock You Like A Hurricane' when the bird swiftly fluttered off just above a very amused Matthias Jabs head off into row Z.

Yes, this gig had it all, and Bangkok demanded more. 'When The Smoke Is Going Down' ended an emotional night. I'm man enough to admit that evenIi had a tear in my eye at the end, but at least I wasn't pouring my heart out like the dedicated female Japanesse fans in front of me who also made the trip here.

More sticks and plectrums were being thrown out by the band as they soaked up the applause. Schenker constantly threw plectrums at me until I managed to catch one in reward for my headbanging duties tonight.

Sadly Thailand will never see the Scorpions again but their music will live on. Luckily for me I will be seeing them again in Europe in the summer and when they do announce UK dates you'll be a fool to miss them because the Scorpions are ending at the top of their game.

After the show I remained outside the Impact Arena soaking up the atmosphere. The beer garden was flowing and the local band played rock classics on through the night. This was how it should be done. This was a gig that I will treasure for ever.

Set list : Sting In The Tail / Make It Real / Bad Boys Running Wild / The Zoo / Coast To Coast / Loving You Sunday Morning / The Best Is Yet To Come / Send Me An Angel / Holiday / Wind Of Change / Raised On Rock /Tease Me, Please Me / Dynamite / Kottak's Attack / Blackout / Six String Sting / Big City Nights... encores... Still Loving You / Always Somewhere / Rock You Like A Hurricane / When The Smoke Is Going Down


Review and photos by Mark Taylor

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