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Scorpions Reissue 'Return to Forever', Set for First-Ever Las Vegas Residency in May

The Scorpions in concert during their Last Sting Tour at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia on July 11, 2012.
Owen Sweeney/REX/Shutterstock

The Scorpions in concert during their Last Sting Tour at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia on July 11, 2012. 

In 2010, Scorpions announced their farewell tour in support of that year's Sting of the Tail album. Then came 2013's MTV Unplugged recording and a tour behind that, and the German hard rock band decided it wasn't done yet. When it released an album in 2015 partially comprising songs it had in the vault from the '80s, it referenced its non-retirement by naming the set Return to Forever. And as it enters its 51st year as a band, it’s still breaking new ground by doing its first-ever residency and rereleasing a "tour edition" of Return to Forever on Century Media today (April 22) that contains an additional seven new songs and two concert DVDs that were filmed in 2015 at Hellfest in Clisson, France and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The May U.S. tour, which includes five Las Vegas shows at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, is a continuation of Scorpions’ 50th Anniversary Tour. Guitarist Matthias Jabs tells Billboard, "Managers and promoters from around the world said, ‘Fifty years; you've got to do it,’” he recalls. "So we announced that we were done too early. It's not that we were forced to do this, because we wanted to, but destiny found its own way."

The Vegas residency is a first for the band. "The fans love it, and when I hear ‘Vegas,’ Elvis comes to mind," says Jabs with a laugh. "Not that we're anything like him, but a lot of great artists have played a string of shows for weeks or months or even a year. Our agent came up with the idea, and we'd had an offer before to do it for a whole month. That didn't work out for whatever reason, but to be able to do five shows, that sounds pretty good to me."

50 Years On, Scorpions Still Rocking Like Hurricanes: Video Interview

And despite the fact that founding guitarist and sole original member Rudolf Schenker and vocalist Klaus Meine are both 67, Jabs, 60, says it's not getting any harder for the band to play. "The more you tour, the fitter you feel," he says. "The old days, we were sitting in the studio for six months. Now we go for two weeks, then we take a break and play a couple shows so we don't get the trauma of being in the studio for too long. And touring keeps you fit. You're traveling, you're running around the stage, you can hit the gym. We always said that as long as The Rolling Stones can do it, we can do it!"

As for the rerelease of Return to Forever, Jabs says it's a sign of the times. "For decades, we used to release an album and go on the road to promote the album," he says. "Now it's the other way around, to a certain extent -- you make an album for a reason to go on the road. We love the road the most, but to be able to create new music that still sounds OK for today is a lot of fun. We cannot just do the greatest hits and play the same set list again and again. We need at least a couple of new songs to refresh our minds when we go out."  

Jabs admits that as popular as Scorpions still is, it's a far cry from the heady days of their '80s success. "The music we were playing was so accepted and loved by everyone that you heard it in the supermarket," he remembers. "It was almost elevator music because it was everywhere. Today we have so many different music styles, the rock music we're making has become like a niche. It's really hard to get new music across. Whatever we record, whatever we release, the fans might like it, but radio would rather play 'Rock You Like a Hurricane.'"

There's no finish line ahead for Scorpions yet, though. Jabs says that they're booked through the end of 2016, and promoters are already calling them about next year. He knows the group is fortunate, because there are only so many rock bands with their level of box-office draw. "Sooner or later, there will be no more AC/DC, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Scorpions and very few other acts from that time that can not only sell out an arena, but with a good package, a stadium. We don't have any new band from the last 10 or 15 years that can follow in their footsteps. Maybe Coldplay or Muse. They're different styles, but they could fill a stadium. Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and those other bands are still up there, but if they die or decide to retire, then I think that promoters have a problem."

Scorpions' May 2016 U.S. tour dates:

May 6     Charlotte, N.C.: Carolina Rebellion

May 9     Nashville: Grand Ole Opry

May 10   St. Louis, Mo.: The Fabulous Fox

May 13-14, 18, 20-21 Las Vegas: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino             

May 24   El Paso, Texas: Don Haskins Arena

May 25   Albuquerque: Isleta Amphitheater

May 28   Pryor, Okla.: Rocklahoma                              

May 29   San Antonio: River City Rockfest

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