Home > News & Reviews > Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker Fest - "Live" Tokyo (Album Review)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Emili Muraki

The most surprising thing about this concert isn’t the fact that reformed wild man Michael Schenker is still alive to celebrate his musical legacy. Nor is it the appearance of three vocalists who enjoyed some interesting experiences fronting the guitarist’s band throughout the 1980s. The biggest shock is that, with Schenker’s immense fretwork posing something of a fire hazard, Tokyo’s International Forum wasn’t evacuated the moment he struck the first note.

Where most of his peers are seemingly content to live out their days as touring nostalgia acts, Schenker usually performs a healthy amount of new material at his gigs. Which is one of two reasons we can forgive him for revisiting past accomplishments during these historic shows. The other being that, judging by this release, said concerts delivered a masterclass of fan-pleasing, guitar-powered hard rock from his ‘80s heyday as a solo artist.

Who’d have thought frontmen Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley would one day belt out some of the finest material they recorded with the guitarist on the very same stage?  

Add former MSG bassist and drummer Chris Glen and Ted McKenna, as well as McAuley Schenker Group guitarist and keyboard player Steve Mann, into the mix and it’s no surprise Assault Attack, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie and Save Yourself boast a level of authenticity Schenker’s usual touring band can’t quite muster.

Barden was never the greatest vocalist and doesn’t always hit the high notes these days, but delivers a strong performance as the band rip through Attack Of The Mad Axeman, Victim Of Illusion and a typically rousing Cry For The Nations. Bonnet, meanwhile, has always had a love-it-or-hate-it delivery, but the Dio-esque mystical metal of Desert Song and poppier Dancer prove those marmite pipes are as scalding as ever.  

From the moment This Is My Heart’s sweeping synths and cries of ‘oh baby’ begin, it’s clear we’re in late ‘80s McAuley territory. Unfairly stigmatised by way of association with the hair metal scene, the Whitesnake-worthy anthemics of Love Is Not A Game highlight how underrated this era was for Schenker. McAuley is mightily impressive too, delivering strong renditions of UFO classics Shoot Shoot and Rock Bottom during the encores before all three singers unite for a rough ‘n’ ready Doctor Doctor, with the joy and camaraderie between everyone on stage genuine for all to see.

Schenker is clearly loving every minute of it, his former shyness a thing of the past as he bounces around the stage beaming from ear to ear while prefacing each singer’s set with a classic instrumental number.  The leviathan riffage of Into The Arena, sneering metal swagger of the Scorpions’ Coast To Coast and neo-classical finesse of Captain Nemo are gold standards for the form and have rarely sounded better. Boasting a near supernatural combination of groove, flash, flair, melody, technique, attitude, power and tone, every one dimensional rock shredder should be legally obliged to study his playing to learn the nuances of six-string dynamism from the undoubted master.

The DVD of the gig is well shot and certainly captures the sense of occasion, energy of the performances and fun being had by everyone at the Forum. The only complaint is that the show isn’t two or three times as long. But with more dates on the horizon and Schenker having promised to keep the set list fresh, and bearing in mind the growing list of rock ‘n’ roll casualties, this is one stroll down memory lane you’ll want to take.

Michael Schenker Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu November 02 2017 - LONDON O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
Fri November 03 2017 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Sat November 04 2017 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sun November 05 2017 - HULL City Hall

Click here to compare & buy Michael Schenker Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

Let Us Know What You Think - Leave A Comment!

You May Also Like:

Live, Energetic, Off The Cuff: How Black Stone Cherry Discovered Their 'Family Tree'
Mon 30 Apr 2018
Photo: Harry Reese Lots of rock ‘n’ roll groups try to embody the mythic notion that they’re some kind of swaggering last gang in town with a special camaraderie. While many start off that way, over time reality usually bites and they end up becoming decidedly unromantic business concerns with a clear pecking order. It’s refreshing to discover that, after 17 successful years, Black Stone Cherry remain the same four friends who grew up together in Kentucky.
Black Stone Cherry - Family Tree (Album Review)
Tue 24 Apr 2018
Photo: Harry Reese Black Stone Cherry’s last two albums were predominantly intense affairs. Made under the dark clouds of depression and record label strife respectively, they boasted a heavy, aggressive approach that didn’t always play to the group’s strengths. The same can’t be said of ‘Family Tree’. Bursting with infectious exuberance and quality craftsmanship, it’s the work of a band who sound like they’re finally having fun again.
Melvins - Pinkus Abortion Technician (Album Review)
Thu 03 May 2018
The dichotomy facing the average Melvins fan is this: hating their new music because it doesn't resemble that of their heyday, while respecting Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover because they keep doing whatever the fuck they want. Their 27th studio album, ‘Pinkus Abortion Technician’, weighs heavily on this divide. It doesn't sound like classic Melvins because it’s a Butthole Surfers parody album with a Beatles cover in the middle. That’s something nobody asked for, and therefore precisely what the band intended.
A Perfect Circle - Eat The Elephant (Album Review)
Wed 09 May 2018
Many critics don't put much stock into dissecting album art, but it's tricky to talk about 'Eat the Elephant', California supergroup A Perfect Circle's first album in 14 years, without at least a passing reference to its sleeve. Fronted by an Uncle Fester-esque character cradling an octopus, the ostentatious cover will trigger a gut response from anyone who grew up listening to angsty alternative rock in the early 2000s.
Bullet For My Valentine Share New Single Letting You Go
Fri 18 May 2018
Bullet For My Valentine have released Letting You Go.
Tremonti Share New Song Bringer Of War
Fri 11 May 2018
Tremonti have released a lyric video for their new song, Bringer of War.
Enter Shikari Announce Intimate Shows, Share Take My Country Back Video
Fri 20 Apr 2018
Photo: Tom Pullen Enter Shikari will play intimate shows in Hatfield and Southampton as part of their run of live dates throughout the UK and Europe this summer.
A Perfect Circle Announce December UK Shows
Tue 24 Apr 2018
A Perfect Circle will play shows in Glasgow, Manchester and London this winter.
< Prev   Next >