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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Michael Schenker live review at Harpo’s, Detroit, Michigan

Michael Schenker live review at Harpo’s, Detroit, Michigan
Temple of Rock Tour – March 3rd, 2012

Michael Schenker live in Detroit - Photo by Alun Williams©

Anyone reading this now, will most likely think this is an extremely biased review, as I make no secret of stating that for many years, Michael Schenker has again and again, proved himself worthy of being my favourite guitarist, ever!

Ever since I first heard something from UFO back in 1978 – ‘Only You Can Rock Me’ – I knew I had to discover more about the band and this phenomenal – No play on words meant, honest! – guitarist, as his style has always been although often rockin’, he’s maintained a clear clean sound that allows the listener to hear EVERY note played and how precise it is.

Sadly over the years, Michael Schenker has indeed had his demons that probably the world and his dog – At least in rock fans land! – knows about.

It’s been a very long time seen I’ve actually got to see Michael play again, since seeing him last, believe it or not, back in the UK in … Well, I’d have to pull out the old ticket stub files to establish this accurately.

Anyway, this show was all the more special since Michael had the classy vocals of one Robin McAuley (Grand Prix, Far Corporation, MSG, Survivor) fronting his band once more.

Something else special happened this night too, that I wasn't expecting …
For some time now, I have been trying to set up an interview with Michael for ‘Chambers of Rock,’ since the last time I spoke to him was for back in 2009.

Now, for whatever reason, the interview I came away from, I was mad at myself for a bunch of reasons that for the life of me, I cannot think how I ran short on questions to ask him, once we were face to face, one on one and I have since been kicking myself, for more reasons than one. Also, the recording of our interview for me to type up, did not come out so good since one of the support acts was getting their sound check in and there was no hiding from the sound, even if Michael did keep getting up and going over to the door to see if he could close it any better.
I think we were both a little frustrated and in all honesty, I wish we could have started from scratch.
Ah well ..., the recording wasn’t great as it picked up much of that sound checking, thereby burying our speech.
I'll get what I can from it folks ...

So, to the show, which got started with the William Shatner spoken lead in intro on latest release, ‘Temple of Rock,’ which what this tour is in support of. Ironically, they only played one new song off the album, but I’m not complaining, it was a great night! Read on!

With the lights dimmed, as Shatner’s voice trails off, out comes the band, ripping it up from the start with the classic jam, ‘Into the Arena!’ I’ll tell you this without hesitation; Michael has got one tight band in long time sidekick Wayne Findlay (Keyboards / Guitars / vocals) and also Pete Holmes (Drums), Elliott ‘Dean’ Rubinson (Bass) and Robin McAuley fronting the whole gig.

Michael Schenker feat. Robin McAuley live in Detroit
Photo by Alun Williams©

 Robin then joins the band next for ‘Armed and Ready’ which rocks better than ever and Robin, without doubt in this fans ears and eyes, sings the material way better than Gary Barden has done in recent times and to be honest, possibly ever!

They barely stop to take a breather before it’s right into The Scorpions ‘Lovedrive’ where Wayne and Michael play off each so well through the verses and Michael’s solo is simply great.
Michael I will say though is looking scarily thin these days, I think possibly taking the healthy diet thing, a little too extreme.
I hope he is not suffering with anything? That said, throughout the night he proceeded to play to win, with absolute class!

As the ‘Lovedrive’ wraps up, Robin tells the audience, ‘Let’s keep The Scorpions in the house with 'An-n-n-n-nother Piece of Meat!’'
Robin sings Klaus Meine’s vocals incredibly well too, is there anything this man can’t sing? Excellent!

The solitary new tune from ‘Temple of Rock’ comes in the shape of the song Robin performed on the album, ‘Lovers Sinfony.’
It rocks with an edginess throughout the verses and has huge melody in the choruses.

At this stage of the evening, I am already convinced that Michael should without doubt take this line up to the next level and record the next album that should fall under the banner of ‘McAuley Schenker Group!’
It worked before Michael, I have to say, you really should do it again!

Throughout the show, Michael plays his little interlude pieces, before each track starts, just as a reminder I guess that this IS the Michael Schenker tour!

‘Save Yourself’ is next, without the lengthy intro and they are on fire, I kid you not. Seriously, go and see Michael Schenker live on this US tour, the band is hot rockin’!
The traditional Michael Schenker pose of the flying V tucked in between his legs and him crouched over, head down playing ‘til his heart’s content and he is indeed playing so well!

‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’ is simply fantastic to hear again, it’s just been too long and playing live albums or watching DVD’s just doesn’t do it as a live show can. Brilliant!
Again, Robin is sounding great singing Gary Barden’s songs.
Michael is sounding so on his game and during the rhythm riffs he stand up and gives the crowd some smiles and then promptly breaks a string … That’s rock ‘n’ roll!

Michael Schenker feat. Robin McAuley live in Detroit
Photo by Alun Williams©

 There are plenty of people snapping away tonight, so many and many of those people videoing this from their phones, so I expected these to appear on You Tube

Up next comes ‘Rock My Nights Away,’ and I love the way the keys kick in after the intro lead part and riff and once more, these guys have got these songs nailed!
Robin still continues to sound great, even if his microphone from time to time tends to cut out, when it doesn’t he’s sounding great.

Then Robin says, ‘Uh oh, I think UFO are in the house, what do you say?’ As the riff for ‘Shoot, Shoot’ kicks in and boy, do I love this gig!

‘It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the Motor City, so from M.S.G. to you, here’s ‘Love to Love!’’
Michael's playing ... Just great!

It’s just getting better for me, where to next? How about ‘Too Hot to Handle,’ oh yeah, now we’re cooking here!
The crowd is clearly getting more and more into the show, as more folks come down from the upper level to the main floor in front of the stage, to get their UFO fix tonight!

Robin is singing well, Michael is so on form and the other guys, all deserve huge kudos for tonight.

‘Let it Roll’ next just continues the momentum and it’s like Michael has almost shifted up a gear for sure.
Nice middle section before Robin comes back out to sing last verse and chorus, before they kick right into ‘Natural Thing’ before wrapping things up with ‘Light’s Out.’
What a killer main set …

Robin McAuley, Elliott 'Dean' Rubinson and Michael Schenker
Photo by Alun Williams©

We wanted more and boy did we get it!
‘On and On’ opens the first encore section and then it’s ‘Rock Bottom’ for the next eight or so minutes.
You know Vinnie Moore is very good with UFO now and Paul Chapman wasn’t bad, but when Michael is on his game …, these are his songs and that is all too clear from tonight’s presentation.

They leave the stage again and I’m saying, ‘They haven’t played ‘Doctor, Doctor’ yet!’

Back they come and what do they play? ‘Attack of the Mad Axeman!’ There’s moments where this goes high and Robin really hits those notes and yes, its wrap up time with ‘Doctor, Doctor.’

You Tube video of 'Doctor, Doctor,' at Harpo's here:

It’s been a brilliant show and right now, I think Michael and Robin are so in sync, you couldn’t ask for more, especially with this band they have behind them. Killer performance!
I think the crowd was very happy, I know I was!

My special thanks to Chris Green and Felicitas Siegel, this couldn't have happened without either of you!
Also to Michael for his time and to Robin, Wayne and Elliott for your time after the show!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Official website:

Yours truly with Robin McAuley after the show in Detroit!

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