Michael Schenker – Temple of Rock Live!

For those who don’t know, Michael Schenker is back in the saddle and on tip top form. Those of us who didn’t manage to catch him on his recent Temple of Rock UK tour, will have to wait for his headline performance at the Steelhouse Festival in July. In the meantime, journalist Paul Monkhouse has kindly allowed me to reproduce his appetite-whetting review of Michael’s recent performance at The Waterfront in Norwich. Cheers, Paul!

Michael Schenker Temple of Rock live!

Michael Schenker – Temple of Rock live!  Photo credit: Vyterus Jurevicius

Michael Schenker Temple of Rock – The Waterfront, Norwich, 21 April 2013

It’s not often that real rock royalty can be seen up close and personal in an intimate venue these days, so anyone who wasn’t at The Waterfront for the closing night of Michael Schenker’s latest UK tour missed an absolute master class in rock guitar. Cherry picking tracks from his long career with classic bands such as UFO, The Scorpions and his own MSG, Schenker looked happy and healthy and was on incredible form. With a past reputation of being somewhat mercurial, he was without doubt the best I’ve seen him, showing why he is so much revered by fans and peers alike, his playing both fluid and inspired. The icing on the cake was the presence in his band of the classic Scorpions rhythm section: Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz and they, alongside former Rainbow vocalist Doogie White and the excellent Wayne Findlay on guitar and keyboards, provided the perfect foils to the German six-stringed Maestro.

Kicking off the set by ripping into ‘Lovedrive’ and ‘Another Piece of Meat’ it was obvious that the band meant business and the pace never flagged once. Classic followed classic, each number greeted with an almost religious fervour and mass sing-alongs were the order of the day. MSG favourites like ‘Armed and Ready’, ‘Into the Arena’ and ‘Attack of the Mad Axeman’ sounded as fresh and vital as they did when they were first minted thirty years ago and ‘Horizons’, a track from the forthcoming ‘Bridge the Gap’ album showed that Schenker still has the ability to write irresistibly catchy riffs and was a mouth-watering taster for the new CD.

Having worked together for fifteen years Rarebell and Buchholz showed the telepathy of all the best rhythm sections and locked into a solid groove that underpinned the whole thing. Never flashy but certainly not without style and flair, their drumming and bass playing respectively were a joy to behold and were the perfect accompaniment to their old friend and bandmate’s sublime playing.

Sharing the stage with these three former Scorpions, affable Scotsman White really shone and his gutsy but melodic voice was perfectly suited to the material, never in the shadow of the originals but very much making each song his own. There was no finer illustration of this in the set than an absolutely ferocious rendition of the Scorp’s classic ‘Rock You like a Hurricane’; Doogie’s vocals at the climax of the song raising goosebumps. Findlay also really impressed, providing added bite and texture to the sound and his solos on the aforementioned ‘…Hurricane’ and ‘Blackout’ were superb. No-one could quite touch the master though and Schenker’s incendiary playing was breath-taking, displaying equal amounts of power and restraint, something that so many of the modern so-called ‘axe heroes’ lack. Not for him any attempt to cram as many notes in a solo as possible or hog the spotlight but more an understanding that the songs had to be as good as the riffs. Far from being ‘just’ hard rock or heavy metal, UFO, the Scorpions and MSG have always been imbued with a style and class that few bands can stake a claim to, the guitarist’s playing being such a key element of that.

The main set finished with UFO’s magnificent ‘Lights Out’ before the band strode back on stage and beautifully eased into the Scorpions ballad ‘Holiday’ before really turning up the heat again with ‘…Hurricane’ and ‘Rock Bottom’. A visceral and towering ‘Doctor Doctor’ was the perfect end to the evening, leaving throats raw and the air well and truly punched. The band seemed blown away by the audience reaction but it was utterly justified by their performance and the feeling was entirely mutual. Easily an early contender for gig of the year and a genuinely stunning display of classic rock.

Paul Monkhouse

Michael Schenker - Temple of Rock

Check out Michael Schenker’s official website

Michael’s new live album

Related post: Michael Schenker – Über Röck interview

Planet Rock’s Steelhouse Festival

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9 Comments

  1. Saw the show at the Picturedrome in Holmfith, an excellent ‘intimate venue’ that plays host to top notch rock shows on a regular basis.
    It was a superb show and Schenker was certainly on top form. I had seen UFO there only a matter of weeks earlier, so the obvious comparisons were there to be made. Both shows served up a rock treat!

    Reply
    • Hello Michael – I’m looking forward to seeing UFO headline HRH AOR in March. (First time I’ll have seen them since High Voltage, when Vinnie had a few technical problems.)
      Cheers!
      Michael

      Reply
  2. mikeslayen

     /  January 6, 2014

    They are in San Diego(Ramona) Saturday, Wayne Findlays home town looking forward to seeing them once again!

    Reply
    • Enjoy the gig, Mike. I’m sure you will – the band have been on great form recently. Their headline set at the Steelhouse Festival last summer was fantastic, and it sounds like they’re fired up by the new album release!

      Reply
      • mikeslayen

         /  January 7, 2014

        Thanks, I haven’t seen the setlist as of yet. They have been doing a lot of UFO/Scorps the last couple of years which is awesome but looking forward to hearing more of his solo stuff…first three albums anyway…

      • If the Steelhouse set is anything to go by, you won’t be disappointed ;-). Great mix of stuff from across the main phases of Michael’s career. Hopefully we’ll see a track or two from the new album popping up here and there too! Let us know how it goes!

  3. mikeslayen

     /  January 14, 2014

    Michael, here is the setlist from San Diego if you are interested. They did a little bit more of the early solo stuff…great show once again! http://mikeslayen.com/2014/01/13/michael-schenker-bridge-the-gap-setlist-concert-review/ Hope you don’t mind the link on your comments!

    Reply
    • Thanks Mike, sounds like a great show! Good to see ‘Assault Attack’ retained in the set list. (I share your enthusiasm for the track and the album.) I think you’re spot on with your “estimates” of the new titles!

      Reply
  4. mikeslayen

     /  January 15, 2014

    Funny cause I wasn’t a Graham Bonnet… fan now he is the voice of MSG after listening to Assault Attack for 30 plus years.

    Reply

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