Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo
Well this is quite a treat for longtime fans of this German guitar ace – I first saw him with UFO I think – as the guest singers are none other than Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McCauley. This lineup does underline Schenker’s good ear for a singer but also makes this special occasion set the more desirable. Add to this the fact that these live recordings were made at the International Forum in Tokyo just last Autumn and it is looking like an essential purchase. Did I mention that the band are Ted McKenna on drums, Chris Glen on bass plus Steve Mann on keys and additional guitar? Rock royalty, the lot of ‘em….
So it’s down to the material and you surely cannot be an aristarch when the setlist includes Attack Of The Mad Axeman, Cry For The Nations, Dancer, Desert Song and Love Is Not A Game. Plus Rock Bottom and Doctor Doctor on which all three fine singers are present. Some thought has gone into this!
After greeting the audience, Schenker and go deliver the pacy, sometimes tricky guitar-scorched rock they are known for and immediately the listener notices how good the rhythm section sounds. Wobbly hammer-ons pepper Into The Arena as the drums pound away. Attack Of The Mad Axeman brings on Gary Barden and he sings well throughout his numbers, sometimes sounding like the king of this style Pete French of Atomic Rooster, Cactus and LeafHound fame. Barden has a touch of soul and sense of dynamics of his own. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie funds him whipping up the crowd as Schenker flings out his pinched-note clusters. His voice cruises into the bridge with an accomplished flow.
The instrumental Coast To Coast grinds out across the venue and Michael’s dexterity is to the fore. He does not rely on speed-dazzling and hits lovely melodic passages throughout the tune. This would suit a detective film! Preferably in black and white…then Graham Bonnet of Rainbow fame is on stage and delivering Assault Attack with its choppy intro and mean beat. Of course he sings up a storm with his own tone and urgency. Bigger bands have singers nowhere near as good this artist. A curious thing, the world of heavy rock…Bonnet excels on the atmospheric song with its harmonics and sinister melody and pattering drums. Not to mention the doomy keys. Dancer is a highlight, booming out and with all three singers contributing.
Disc 2 starts with a punchy Captain Nemo to the delight of the crowd and stirring stuff it is. Robin McAuley then sings lead for some songs including This Is My Heart which always reminded me of Heart. Save Yourself has a show-off intro from Schenker then evolves into a driving rock classic sung with edge and feeling and one of the best moments on this set. Shoot Shoot pounds away with just enough finesse. Rock Bottom keeps things moving before a closing Doctor Doctor brings back memories of UFO shows of old, striped circus trousers and all.
Everyone on these cuts plays with fire and skill and the singing is exemplary and varied and this is as good a rock release as you will find for high quality and atmosphere. You can acquire this release on two-CD, a very well-presented two-CD plus DVD, Vinyl LP, DVD, Blu-Ray or Digital, by the way.
Michael Schenker Fest “LIVE” Tokyo (Featuring The Original MSG Vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnett And Robin Mcauley) is released on Friday 24th March 2017 on 2CD, 2CD+DVD Combo, LP, DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital.
Pre-Order Michael Schenker Fest “LIVE” Tokyo on Amazon UK here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_21?url=search-alias%3Dpopular&field-keywords=michael+schenker+fest&sprefix=michael+schenker+fest%2Caps%2C143&crid=1DEN3SBLFKY42
For more information visit Michael Schenker’s official website here: http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com/