Concert Report by Skid Michael Schenker Group at Fat Cat Music House, Modesto, CA, U.S.A. October 3, 2012 Added on 10/06/2012
Oct. 3 2012 Modesto CA, Fat Cat Music House
This was the third visit of MSG to my home town of Modesto. That means vacation days off from work and calling friends and family to join me at the show. The club was not close to full but those that were there were very vocal in their support of Michael and the band. Many people told me they only found out at the last minute from friends or the weekend newspaper that MSG were again here to rock the California central valley. One guy I met had come over from Hawaii just to see MSG! He was not disappointed as he grabbed a spot right in front of Michael's microphone stand. Since it was the first show of the tour I did not know the set list and as each song started it was a pleasant surprise to hear nugget after nugget of Schenker gold. Starting with two songs from Lovedrive, the tone for the evening was set as the enthusiastic crowd responded by heaving energy back at the band as they rocked the house. The show seemed fast to me as great classic Scorpions, UFO, and MSG tunes blasted the club. I don't have an exact set list or the running order so I will leave the element of surprise to those that are going to other dates. No real surprises but nothing that will send you to the restroom or out for a smoke. David Van Landing sings all the different eras of Michaels career wonderfully as he did during the 1997 Michael Schenker Story Live tour, not an easy task. Wayne Findlay as he always does, multi tasking on guitar and keyboards, keeping the classic songs balanced and true to their sound. I have watched Pete Holmes on drums over the last tours and he has given me a newfound respect for banging on the skins, also keeping the songs true to form. Rounding out the awesome rhythm section, Elliot Rubinson on bass seems to really enjoy playing and his interaction onstage with his band mates made me smile more than a couple times.
It was hard not to smile as Michael ripped though so many memorable riffs and solos from his storied career. I always leave his shows craving certain songs that did not make the cut on the set list but I never am disappointed by the great selections that I do have the privilege to hear live. As it has been for quite a while now, Michael seems healthy and happy onstage and interacts with the crowd so much more than earlier in his career. He has definitely expiated his struggles from years before. He constantly walked up to the stage edge and slapped hands with nearly everyone in the front, never missing a beat or riff, smiling all the time. He always throws in a guitar fill here and there that takes me by surprise and adds to the chorus, rhythm or solo. His current signature pose is identical to the cover of the latest CD "Temple of Rock" with his Dean V held high and Michael's fingers racing up and down the frets. The same pose was displayed on the video backdrop and on both new designs of the tour shirts. I stood amazed as always while Michael exhibited his ability to shine during the solo to Rock Bottom and it is truly a crowd pleaser. A true "Spinal Tap" moment was when Michael plays with one hand and is handed a camera from behind the amps. He previously used a digital camera and took a half dozen or so photos of the crowd before him but this was one of those cameras that has to be wound with a little plastic wheel on the top corner after every picture. So Michael is standing there with his Dean V held high in his right hand, fingers wailing, pick in mouth, camera in his left hand and takes one picture, then tries to "wind" the wheel to the next picture with one hand while laughing himself at the funny awkward moment.
I know I am preaching to the choir here and as a huge Michael fan I may be just a little biased, but whenever I see online someone who lists Michael as an influence (and there are many) I think to myself that anyone who misses the chance to see Michael rock these shows are depriving themselves of a chance to see a true legend at work and at his best.