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Shepherds Bush Empire, London 2 June 2010
Like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you are going
to get with notoriously unpredictable guitar legend Michael Schenker,
the man once dubbed the ‘Krazy Kraut' by an admiring if un-PC Kerrang in
the early eighties.
the mercurial German seems to have shed his personal demons, on the
evidence of this memorable show marking the 30th anniversary of the
Michael Schenker Group.
ski hat, he looked well and at peace with himself - even smiling with
the crowd and inviting them to play his guitar at one stage, while his
trademark burning runs up and down the fretboard of his Flying V were
arguably better than ever.
the Schenker-heads who headed stage left and forgot to spot from his
Marshall stacks that he had stationed on the right side of the stage for
the first time I can remember.
that some of the men who gave MSG their biggest successes in the early
eighties are back in the fold - vocalist Gary Barden and bassist Chris
Glen. The former was never the greatest of singers, and to be honest he
struggled at times, but he plays the part of the genial old rocker to
perfection and it feels more authentic with him on board than more
technically gifted hired hands Schenker has used in the past.
Glen's Ross Valory-esque face pulling and ample girth belied some nifty
bass work. The line-up was completed by the powerful drumming of
much-travelled Chris Slade and American Wayne Findlay in the Paul
Raymond role of rhythm guitarist and keyboardist.
instrumental opening, a double from their 1980 debut, Armed and Ready
and Cry for the Nations got the gig off to a flying start and the pace
rarely let up, with the likes of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie and On and On
with extended solos from Michael, his guitar tour de force Into the
Arena and the slow burning Lost Horizons, with Barden finding his vocal
Even a pair
of songs from their reunion album In the Midst of Beauty, with Neil
Murray guesting on A Night to Remember, impressed with Barden seeming
more comfortable on them than when he was straining for notes on the
It was great
to hear Rock my Nights Away for once, although it was not the best
version, while a belated UFO classic in Lights Out, Scorpions drummer
Herman Rarebell guesting, and his signature tune Attack of the Mad
Axeman brought the set to fever pitch.
after slipping another newie, Ride on My Way, into the first encore, the
real treat was to come. On sauntered Pete Way for Doctor Doctor, almost
bringing tears to those who feared UFO's legendary bassist, and a man
who defines rock'n'roll excess, would never be seen on stage again.
Not only him
but Paul Raymond whose altercations with Schenker were obviously now in
the past, and singer Doogie White, striking a very Phil Mogg-esque vocal
pose. It would be hard to top that, but Michael cranked out the riff to
Rock Bottom and the usual extended workout had people going crazy at the
One of my
favourite gigs of the year, and far more enjoyable than UFO's last show
at the same venue . I just hope that ‘Metal Mickey' continues to stay on
an even keel and enthral us for years to come.
Armed and Ready/Cry for the Nations/let Sleeping Dogs Lie/Are You Ready
to Rock/I Want You/Night to Remember/Into the Arena/Lost Horizons/Rock
My Nights Away/On and On/Lights Out/Attack of the Mad Axeman
Encores: Ride on My Way/Doctor Doctor/Rock Bottom
Photos by Mark
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