Scorpions / Megadeth Place Bell, Laval QC, September 19

Scorpions / Megadeth Place Bell, Laval QC, September 19
Photo: Chris Bubinas
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The brand new Place Bell in Laval, Quebec celebrated hosting music events by kicking off with some serious firepower last night (September 19) as U.S. thrash legends Megadeth, opened for German rock icons the Scorpions on their "Crazy World" Tour.
 
Megadeth may seem dangerously heavy for the average Scorpions fan, and perhaps they nodded at this, with the impressive video installation behind them flashing a military command centre-styled countdown, warnings and threat alerts. The crowd was ready to meet the challenge, however, as the band took the stage and were greeted by a very age-diverse audience, howling and headbanging around them.
 
The aggressive four-piece opened their set with 1990's riff-laden "Hangar 18" before spiralling into a concise sprint of a set, which pulled from many of the best albums in their arsenal. Vintage works like "Mechanix" intermingled with newer tracks like "Sweating Bullets," "Symphony of Destruction" and a terrific rendition of their softer, slower "A Tout le Monde" from 1994's Youthanasia.
 
Frontman Dave Mustaine was all business during the constraints of the 60-minute, opener set length, but did take a moment to joke about it, saying he wouldn't waste much time talking tonight because of a curfew.
 
Perhaps most impressive in the performance was the masterful guitar work of their newest member, lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro, who shredded through the set with apparent ease. The band closed out their set with impressive performances of two of their heaviest tracks: "Peace Sells," which had the crowd chanting to Dave Ellefson's iconic opening bass riffs, and the thrash masterwork "Holy Wars… The Punishment Due."
 
Waiting for the Scorpions to take the stage, there was palpable anticipation in the crowd. So when the seemingly ageless troupe, the first inception of which formed in 1965, finally took the stage, the crowd erupted. The band opened with "Going out with a Bang" from their last studio album, 2015's Return to Forever. Perhaps it was a hint that things may soon draw to a close for the iconic five-piece, but in the here and now, that didn't matter; the night was an incredible and emotional love affair between the band, their music and an elated crowd.
 
While the dazzling video screens covering the back of the stage showed trippy video renderings of the band performing, or provided a Canadian flag backdrop, the Scorpions soared through so much of their defining music. Early in the set, "The Zoo" from 1980's Animal Magnetism really whetted appetites for the band's vintage material.
 
Vocalist Klaus Meine, seeming immune to the hands of time, provided vocals that were absolutely flawless as he patrolled and poured himself into the crowd. The three guitarists made ample use of the runway jutting out from the stage. Founder and rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker was like a wrecking ball of energy, striking poses and, at one pointed, playing a ridiculously cool guitar with a muffler attached, spewing smoke all over the place. In contrast, lead guitarist Matthias Jabs, perhaps the most underrated player in rock, was focused on his work, blissfully rapt by the music, with the occasional smile overcoming his face.
 
The back half of the performance in particular was breathtaking, as the crowd engagement and participation started to rise. The crowd swayed and sang their way through classics such as "Send me an Angel," "Big City Nights" and "Still Loving You" as they set the arena aglow with lighters and cell phones.
 
A feedback loop of joy between the band and the crowd was tangible. On numerous occasions, Meine stretched, holding the microphone out over the end of the catwalk and over the fans to let them sing. At one point during "Still Loving You," the crowd carried the song for what must have been a full minute, it was absolutely incredible.
 
As "Rock You Like a Hurricane," the last song of the encore, drew to a close, the band assembled at the front of the stage. After numerous thank yous and bows of appreciation, they were left staring in awe into the roaring crowd. They seemed pained to be leaving the stage, as though they wanted to stay in that moment forever.

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