Concert Report by Steve Michael Schenker at The Robin 2, Bilston, U.K. July 22, 2011 Added on 07/23/2011
Last time I saw MSG was that car crash night in Stourbridge nearly 4 years ago which ended in boos and refunds as a pathetic and sick looking Schenker fell apart on stage. Since then his gcurrencyh has clearly risen again as even support act Voodoo Sioux had a half, perhaps even 2/3, full house to play to. They made a decent enough noise and are a good band. Only trouble is the music world is awash with "good" and for me good isn't good enough to really excite. The singe wore a red band of face paint across his eyes a la Lone Ranger (actually more like Annie Lennox who wore a black one at Live Aid) and a skirt, but even then my eyes were drawn mainly to the balding, bearded (in a trendy way) bass player. He was technically brilliant and a visually compelling live wire and he alone kept my interest when the music didn't - well him and Twitter!
Having dispensed with the good it was time for the unknown. Which Michael Schenker was in the house and was Pete Way with him? The house lights went down at 9.30, and a sense of dread started to build when the band still hadn't hit the stage 15 minutes later. In actual fact I think the lighting guy might have dozed off during the wait because at around 9.50 the crew chief was furiously flashing his torch to signal that the band were ready with no response. Either that or he wanted to hear Mississippi Queen right to the end. Finally an over long intro tape started, built to a crescendo, fell to a lull, built again then waned until, finally....... lights, Schenker, MUSIC! Fears of disaster born out of over-indulgence were quickly allayed ? the man was RIPPING it up and tore through Into The Arena with note perfect gusto.
Michael has lost weight since I last saw him and looks healthy again. Gone are the combat trousers and baggy shirts and, with his sunglasses covering those eyes that probably betray his real age, he looked quite youthful. There's a certain gelegantly wastedh feel to his crap tattoo adorned arms but he seems to be in good shape. So too does Herman Rarebell. His drumming was right on the money and he was completely at home in a very tight band. I know very little about the others to be honest, except that I admire their loyalty as they were the guys who watched the star of their band melt down on stage in 2007. Michael Voss is a classic classic rock singer and looks to me to be the bastard child of Robert Plant and Robin Zander, but from the moment he hit the stage to sing Armed and Ready, the second song of the night, he was pretty much in charge. My recollection of the set list is not guaranteed (but I know this one is wrong http://goo.gl/OFaCl) but after Armed and Re ady came Lovedrive, Another Piece of Meat, a new MSG song, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Doogie White on vocals) and then, the UFO section.
I love Vinnie Moore and what he's bought to UFO, just as I loved Tonka, but nobody plays those great songs like Michael Schenker. He's dropped that shredding style he'd started using and now plays straight and it was truly a joy to see and hear him do justice to Let It Roll, Love to Love, Natural Thing and Lights Out. Although he looks the archetypal metal dude, Wayne Findlay's keyboard playing for the UFO songs is a significant part of making them so great, and it was fantastic to hear Natural Thing again sounding so much like the Strangers version (although Voss is no substitute for Pill Mogg). Then we saw him, waiting behind the keyboards, itching to get at it ? Pete Way. Voss introduced him, although he really need not have bothered, and boom, the ultimate hard rock basis was on stage playing Shoot Shoot.
It's increasingly bitter sweet seeing Pete on stage. The large, round belly and puffy, slightly bloated face tell their own story about life at the rock n roll coal face. Sadly, unlike his mate Metal Mickey who has recovered his great playing skills, Pete only does a passable impression of his younger self ? he plays all the right notes and often in the right order. When he used to play the crowd and the bass at the same time, he now seems incapable of such multi tasking and sometimes forgets to do the musical bit whilst being the rocker (although he has developed the skill of getting his arse to hang out of his red stripey trousers whilst playing). But he's still Pete Way, and I still love him and will always go see him whenever I can because he's still, to me at least, the greatest rock bass player, the one everybody wished they could be.
Shoot Shoot was followed by Too Hot to Handle and that was it for the main set. After a brief absence from the stage the band (minus Pete) returned for Rock You Like a Hurricane and Blackout. Voss played lead guitar for these two and nailed a magnificent solo on each, he's a brilliant guitar player as well as being an ace front man.
Pete returned for the second encore of Rock Bottom and Doctor Doctor. He didn't have his usual lie down during the former, and in fact held it together really well during the solo section when he and Schenker gelled almost as well as they did back in the seventies. Better still at no point did he look like he might fall down and he was in full flight by the time they tore through Doctor Doctor. And then they were gone, but it had been a truly wonderful gig.
As I walked out of the club I relived the moments towards the end of the show when the two old friends, Way and Schenker, started larking around and playing each other up, grinning widely as they did so. That was when I realised that these 2 guys in old bodies had, in their minds, really never stopped being teenager rockers with the world at their feet and how, as well as being teenagers, they bring out the youth in me. That's not a bad talent and that's why, whether they're on good form or bad, I still love eem