This is the second time I have seen Mr Schenker and crew in the last few weeks having witnessed the band at the Hard Rock Hell festival in Wales. The fact that I couldn’t wait for tonight’s show is testament to the form that the band are in at the moment and evidence that the mad axeman is back in his rightful place as one of the best rock guitarists to have ever graced a stage.
I had to wait a bit longer though as first up tonight were Western Sand, another band I caught at HRH and was keen to see again. The four piece play melodic hard rock with a touch of southern rock mixed in for added effect. Singer Tyler Hains has a look of Chad Kroeger about him and at times it would be easy to compare the guys to Nickelback, but that would do them a disservice.
The band owe more to the likes of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd than Canada’s finest with the twin guitar attack from Hains and Jimmy Bradshaw leading the way. The band’s hard rock went down well with the crowd, although due to an early start the numbers were a bit low for the set.
One thing which did affect the set a bit was the sound, the two guitars were channelled to come through one set of speakers each which meant that depending where you were standing you either got one guitarist or the other. It may have sounded fine in the sound engineer’s headphones but out front it was a bit distracting.
By the end of their allotted 40 minutes the band had impressed the gathering crowd and no doubt gained a few friends in Glasgow. A band to watch for the future I think.
By the time the lights dimmed and the intro tape rolled for the entrance of Michael Schenker and co the hall had filled significantly. Word has spread over the last couple of years of just how good the band are and the numbers have been swelling tour on tour.
One of the surprises of this tour is that the guys are opening the set with the traditional set closer ‘Doctor, Doctor’ and as Wayne Findlay played the keyboard intro a huge cheer went up. Michael appeared with beanie hat firmly in place and cranked out one of the most familiar riffs in rock with the crowd bouncing along.
For frontman Doogie White this was a hometown gig and he made it clear from the off that he was glad to be back. ‘Where The Wild Wind Blows’ from the band’s last album ‘Bridge The Gap’ was next and stood up well sandwiched between the classic opening track and the MSG favourite ‘Armed And Ready’ which followed.
The set again was a good mix of tracks from all points of Michael’s career but on this tour he has included a few more unexpected tracks like ‘Natural Thing’ and ‘Let It Roll’, both from his UFO days, which were good to hear. The two instrumental tracks ‘Coast To Coast’ and ‘Into The Arena’ gave the band a chance to shine. The guitar and keyboard work of Findlay provided the perfect backing for Schenker giving him his chance to shine.
No band is complete though without a solid rhythm section and they don’t get much better than the ex-Scorpions pairing of Francis Buchholz on bass and Herman ‘ze German’ Rarebell on drums. Introduced during the set by White as the ‘naughty and the nice’ the twosome were as reliable as ever and both looked overjoyed to be on stage with Schenker once more.
Bringing things up to date, Doogie introduced a track from the band’s forthcoming album ‘Spirit On A Mission’ due out early in 2015. ‘Vigilante Man’ is a fast paced full on rocker which bodes well for the rest of the album.
It was the Schenker classics though that raised the biggest cheers, from ‘Shoot, Shoot’ to ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ the crowd sang along with every word. For ‘Too Hot To Handle’ White introduced Michael’s old sparring partner Chris Glen to the stage with his bass to play along which was a nice touch.
‘Rock Bottom’ rounded off the main set with an extended solo spot from Schenker reminding everyone just why he is considered one of the greatest guitarists in rock. Judging from the smile on his face at the end it would appear that Michael is enjoying his resurgence just as much as the fans.
A quick blast through ‘Blackout’ rounded off the evening in style with Doogie White encouraging the throng to participate in one last singalong, he didn’t have to try too hard.
This was another fantastic night from a band who just get better and better. With the new album due early next year the future looks brighter than ever for Michael Schenker and with Temple Of Rock there should be no stopping this particular rock ‘n’ roll hurricane!
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
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