Michael Schenker Sage Gateshead 25 Jan 2016
It was a Friday night over 40 years ago, probably 1974. A group of us were standing on the dancefloor marveling at the young guitarist who was strutting his stuff a few feet in front of us. The band was UFO, who had just released their third album Phenomenon, and their new member was German guitar wizard Michael Schenker. Schenker was every inch the young and perfect rock god; long blonde hair, skinny jeans, a scoop neck t-shirt covered in stars (I think; my memory plays tricks). And he could squeeze some tryly amazing sounds out of his Gibson Flying V. The stand-out track was Doctor Doctor. Amazing. We all went home and practised some more on our guitars.
Roll on 40 something years. It’s been a long time since I last saw Michael Schenker; probably in the 1980s when he fronted his own MSG. Today his band is Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock and the members are ex-Scorpions Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass), ex-Rainbow’s Doogie White (vocals) and Wayne Findlay (guitar & keyboards).
I make my way to the front and stand (probably too) close to the PA stack. Schenker and the guys take to the stage and launch straight into a blistering rockin’ Doctor Doctor. Schenker looks great: skinny, fit, and he’s walking the stage with a wild glint in his eye and a massive grin across his face. His playing is amazing; still the guitar hero who blew me away all those years ago. The band rocks and is LOUD; Doogie White does a fine job singing those classic UFO and Scorpions tracks. The new songs sound pretty good too.
Setlist: Doctor Doctor; Live and Let Live; Lights Out; Where the Wild Winds Blow; Natural Thing; Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead; Victim of Illusion; Lovedrive; Coast to Coast; Vigilante Man; Saviour Machine; Too Hot to Handle; Good Times; Rock You Like a Hurricane; Rock Bottom
Encore: Attack of the Mad Axeman; Communion; Blackout
Postscript. By the time I drove home I couldn’t hear a thing. Just a dull ringing in my hears. Now when I was young it was great fun if my ears buzzed for days after a gig. This time it sort of scared me. My hearing isn’t that great anyway, and I was thinking “What if it doesn’t come back?” Well luckily it has. Lesson learned: when you are an old guy like me you take the earplugs they offer you at the door.
Schenker is still a legend.
Archive for the ‘Michael Schenker’ Category
Michael Schenker Sage Gateshead 25 Jan 2016
Michael Schenker Newcastle City Hall 30th November 1982
I get the impression that the mad axe man was probably not the easiest guy to work with. Come 1982 and vocalist Gary Barden was out of the MSG, to be replaced by ex Marbles and Rainbow front man Graham Bonnet, he of the powerful voice with an amazing range. On top of that drummer Cozy Powell and Schenker’s UFO mate Paul Raymond were also off. A new album “Assault Attack” was recorded and released and a tour followed soon after. However by the time the tour started Graham Bonnet was gone, and the vocal spot was refilled by Gary Barden. What was happening! I was looking forward to seeing Schenker and Bonnet together; now that would have been some gig. The rest of the line-up was Chriss Glenn on bass (aha someone stayed constant) and his SAHB pal Ted McKenna on drums.
The tour called at Newcastle City Hall on 30th November 1982, and it was another good concert, even if we didn’t get the chance to see Graham Bonnet. Less UFO songs this time around, but we still got “Doctor Doctor” 🙂
An audience recording exists; I found this comment about the gig on the Live Rock Avenue blog spot: “Assault Attack tour but no Graham bonnet, unfortunately. Assault attack was a masterpiece, on the same level of the first two studio album but rawer,harder, heavier, bluesier…Barden’s abilities weren’t the same as Bonnet’s. Assault attack, Dancer, Samurai, Broken promises were left out of the set list due to Barden’s inabilities. However a great concert. Also Looking for love was played!”
Setlist: Ulcer; Cry for the nations; Attack of the mad axeman; Rock you to the ground; Bijou Pleasurette; Victim of illusion; Into the arena; Desert song; Curvoisier Concerto; Lost horizon; Let sleeping dogs lie; We are looking for love;,Armed and ready; Doctor doctor; Ready to rock; Rock Bottom
This was the last time I saw Michael Schenker, which is a mistake on my part. Another one to add to my list of people to see again. I see he is touring again in December….
Michael Schenker Newcastle City Hall 1980 and 1981
Michael Schenker was (and still is) a true guitar legend. Back in the mid 70s, Shenker was the man. Great rock attitude, a reputation for being a pretty wild guy, great screeching riffs, fast fingers up and down the neck of his Flying V, a little bit flashy, so skinny, and amazing long blonde hair. I saw him many times with UFO right back from the early days when they used to play quite regularly at Sunderland Mecca. I would stand on the dance floor transfixed by Schenker’s playing, and had a few mates who swore down that he was the best guitarist at the time. “Doctor Doctor” was of course a big favourite of all of us, and the dance floor would always fill when it was played. Then around 1978, shock horror, Schenker announced that he was leaving UFO. He was becoming known for drug and drink excess, for being unreliable, disappearing for spells. The usual tale of a young guy (he was only 17 when he joined UFO) and too much too soon. However it seemed that he soon got his act together and that by 1980 he was of sufficient stature to lead his own band, and to go out and headline his own tour. Schenker set about assembling a band of top rate musicians. By 1981 his band included Schenker on his signature Gibson Flying V lead guitar, newcomer and Schenker discovery Gary Barden on vocals, ex SAHB Chris Glen on bass, his old UFO pall Paul Raymond on keyboards and rhythm guitar, and powerhouse drum supremo Cozy Powell. I saw Schenker on his 1980 tour, in support of his first solo album “The Michael Schenker Group, when he called at Newcastle City Hall on 2nd October 1980 and at the same venue again on 4th September 1981 when he played in support of his second solo lp “MSG”. Both shows were opportunities for Schenker to show us what virtuoso rock guitar playing is all about. The set featured a mix of his new solo stuff and UFO favourites like “Rock Bottom”, “Shoot Shoot”, “Lights Out” and of course “Doctor Doctor”, which, for me, is one of the great classic rock songs, and a track that I play to this day.
Setlist from the Hammersmith Odeon gig of the same tour: Armed and Ready; Cry for the Nations; Victim of Illusion; Natural Thing; Feels Like a Good Thing; Into the Arena; Looking Out from Nowhere; Rock Bottom; Tales of Mystery; Lost Horizons; Shoot Shoot; Doctor Doctor; Lights Out
From the 1981 tour programme:
“The Mad Axe Man is Back.”
“Is it Loud Enough?”
I just have to hear the first few bars of “Doctor Doctor” with that magnificent swirling guitar, and I’m back on that dance floor again – just to the right of the plastic palm tree 🙂
“Doctor doctor, please…..
Oh, the mess I’m in
Doctor doctor, please…oh, the mess I’m in
She walked up to me and really stole my heart
And then she started to take my body apart
Livin’ lovin’ I’m on the run
So far away from you
Livin’ lovin’ I’m on the run
So far away from you”
(Schenker and Mogg, 1974)
Wow is that song really 40 years old ? 🙂
It all seems like yesterday…..so recent, and yet so long ago