Veteran rockers power on, despite Covid-19

With the spate of concert cancellations and postponements due to the coronavirus outbreak, it seemed almost surreal that the double-bill concert by veteran hard-rockers Scorpions and Whitesnake was still on.

And what a gig it was. The top-notch classic-rock show drew an almost full-house crowd of 5,000, who turned up despite the concert being moved a day later to The Star Theatre.

It was originally scheduled to take place at Fort Canning Park last Wednesday, but the venue was changed due to logistical reasons brought about by the outbreak.

It was also the only gig in the Singapore Rockfest II series to go on – American bands Slipknot and Trivium had postponed their shows, and Italian band Lacuna Coil had cancelled theirs.

The fists pumping in the air and voices hoarse from the many sing-a-long moments to songs going as far back as almost five decades spoke volumes about the resilience and determination of both the fans and performers.

Nothing – not even the anxiety surrounding the global spread of the coronavirus – could put them off a good rock ‘n’ roll show.

British band Whitesnake, fronted by the charismatic David Cover-dale, came on first at 7.45pm. For the next 11/2 hours, the 68-year-old British singer gave a sterling example of why he is regarded as one of rock’s still active elder statesmen.

His delivery of crowd-pleasing tunes, derived mostly from two of the band’s best loved albums – Slide It In (1984) and Whitesnake (1987) – was sturdy and he showed that he could still pull high-pitched screams at the end of a cover of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City.

From the anthemic, synth-driven Here I Go Again and power ballad Is This Love to the moody and dramatic Still Of The Night and adroit guitar and drum solos, Coverdale and company had the crowd eating out of their hands.

It was not just a retro-fest. The band played no fewer than six songs from their newest and 13th album, Flesh & Blood, released last year.

The new tunes did not mess with the band’s winning formula – songs with massive, hook-laden chorus with Coverdale’s singing often backed by four-part harmonies sung by his bandmates.

REVIEW / CONCERT

SINGAPORE ROCKFEST II: SCORPIONS AND WHITESNAKE LIVE IN SINGAPORE

The Star Theatre/Last Thursday

Scorpions, too, played a balanced 11/2-hour set list that comprised raw early tunes from the 1970s, fan favourites from the 1980s and songs from their 18th and most recent album, Return To Forever (2015).

Like a well-oiled machine, the German stalwarts played flawlessly, even if the audio mix during their set was less balanced than Whitesnake’s.

Singer Klaus Meine, 71, seemed a little tepid at times, but held up pretty well for someone who had to undergo emergency surgery to remove kidney stones just a couple of weeks ago.

Guitarist and founder Rudolf Schenker, also 71, was flashy, at one point playing a guitar with a built-in smoke machine, but his playing was never too self-indulgent.

Trademark lighters-in-the-air ballads such as Still Loving You, Send Me An Angel and Wind Of Change sparked massive sing-a-longs, as did blazing rockers such as Blackout, Big City Nights and Rock You Like A Hurricane.

Scorpion’s set was preceded by a brief address from Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, who told the crowd he has been a fan of the band since he was young. He praised the audience for sending the important message that “Covid-19 or not, in Singapore, life still goes on”.

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