Concert Report by Richard Michael Schenker at Rock City, Nottingham, U.K. April 20, 2013 Added on 04/24/2013
It's been some time since I last saw Michael live, after I became gradually disenchanted by the cancellations and drunken shenanigans of the past. However, having read that Michael had finally got his act together once again, and having seen the proof for myself courtesy of any number of YouTube videos, it was time to join the Schenker trail once again, as the Temple of Rock tour hit my home town, Nottingham.
Rock City is a fairly well known club and a great live music venue. The last time I'd seen Michael play here, it had been in the basement, and I remember wondering if the good days would ever return, or if Michael had finally become one of the many fine hard rock musicians who were at their commercial peak in the seventies and eighties, but were now forced to play tiny clubs in the middle of nowhere. Great for the fans, who get to stand within a couple of feet of their heroes and (usually) meet them afterwards, but surely a bit of a downer for anyone who has played at the Budokan.
We arrived early to secure a place at the front and settled in to watch the support act, a French band called Karelia. Their latest album, Golden Decadence, has a quirky, varied, modern metal style, which, though not really to my classic metal tastes, is eminently listenable. Live, the band come across as four extremely likeable, self-deprecating chaps who thoroughly enjoy performing their music.
The anticipation built as the time for Michael to step on stage approached, and the crowd roared its approval as the mad axeman and the rest of the band walked on. Rock City has a capacity of 2000, and although the attendance was probably around half that, the hall had a pleasantly crowded feel to it and there was an excellent atmosphere.
And so to the performance itself. Both crowd and band were totally up for the occasion. The UFO tunes possibly won out in terms of crowd reaction, with the Scorps tunes a close second. I can't actually remember the last time that I heard so many people singing along to so many songs at a gig. Michael was in splendid form, Wayne was his ever-dependable self, Doogie conducted proceedings magnificently and Francis and Herman were quite obviously having a whale of a time. Although Doogie occasionally plays fast and loose with the lyrics, he has a powerful, melodic voice and I can't think of a better fit for this band.. We may yearn for the days when Michael was paired with Phil Mogg or Gary Barden, but Doogie is a class act. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming album.
I don't think that it would be entirely correct to say that Michael is in the best live form of his career - that would possibly be around the time that Strangers in the Night was recorded - but he's close enough. On the minus side, I still miss the tone of the Gibsons, but on the plus side it's fantastic to see Michael so animated on stage again. He's truly back to being the rock icon that we all hoped he still could be.
The set consisted of a virtually non-stop procession of 24-carat hard rock classics. Personal highlights were the Scorps songs (Coast to Coast was particularly wondrous to behold), Armed and Ready (because it's from the era when I was first getting into Michael's music and it's still a kick-ass live tune), Only You Can Rock Me, Lights Out, Rock Bottom and Doctor Doctor. Rock Bottom topped the pile though. For me, there is no more spine-tingling moment at a live show than when the words 'Where do we go-ooooooh from heeeere?' ring out, and an in-form Michael Schenker takes me to another place, a million miles away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life.
At the end of the show, we trooped away having been privileged to witness a superb evening's entertainment. I couldn't see any evidence of a signing taking place, which was a small regret, as I've been fortunate enough to have met Michael at several of his shows, but that's only a minor grumble. It must be pretty intense to play a gig like this, then to chat to everyone about the time that you performed at X venue in Y year before hitting the road again a few hours afterwards.
To anyone who is still wavering over whether to see the Temple of Rock tour or not, waver no longer - the Schenk is back!.
Here's the setlist (nabbed from www.setlist.com - I'll have to assume it's correct, because I was too busy rockin' out to keep note of the song order):
Main Set: Lovedrive / Another Piece of Meat / Assault Attack / Armed and Ready / Into the Arena / Rock My Nights Away / Attack of the Mad Axeman / Horizons / Before the Devil Knows You're Dead / Coast to Coast / Shoot Shoot / Only You Can Rock Me / Let it Roll / Too Hot to Handle / Lights Out
First Encore: Holiday / Rock You Like a Hurricane / Rock Bottom