It’s not every day that guitar legends like Michael Schenker stop off at Edinburgh to play, so tonight’s show at The Queen’s Hall with Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock band was not an event that I wanted to miss.
“Temple of Rock” may seem a pretentious name to give your new band, but when it consists of Herman Rarebell (drums – ex Scorpions), Francis Buchholz (bass), Wayne Findlay (guitar, keyboards), Doogie White (vocals – ex Rainbow) and of course Michael Schenker himself then you can get away with a name like that.
I was curious before the show to see how Michael and the band would adapt their sound to a venue like The Queen’s Hall and whether or not they would bring those stacks of Marshall amps with them tonight. For those of you reading this review that have never been to this venue, it is a church become concert venue (with capacity for around 900 people) that still retains its church pews in many places (not centre hall). The answer of course (as you would expect) was bring the amps, bring the sound.
From the moment the band stepped on stage, this audience in Edinburgh were in the palm of their hands as they worked their way in a roughly 100 minute non-stop set through classics from the back catalogue of The Scorpions, UFO, MSG and new material from Temple of Rock’s latest album “Spirit on A Mission”.
I’m not going to run through that many of the songs from Michael’s extensive back catalogue played tonight because, judging from this audience’s reactions it was a real surprise and pleasure for them to hear many of their favourites being played, and as this tour is still running and many fans will still be waiting out there, I do not want to spoil their night for them by giving too much away. A couple that can’t be overlooked include “Lights Out”, “Rock Me Like a Hurricane” and just an incredible extended version of “Rock Bottom” highlighting Michael’s guitar genius.
“Temple of Rock” were of course playing songs from their latest album tonight and the new material that included songs such as “Vigilante Man” and “Rock City” just slotted seamlessly into the set. Doogie White and Michael Schenker have co-written all the songs on this album and with a songwriting team this strong, this band just have so much more potential in front of them. The new songs are not only of a high musicianship quality (obviously) but once you listen a bit closer, there are real lyrics there. Schenker/White are a very good songwriting team. Doogie White is of course an outstanding vocalist, and how someone can keep up that level and power of vocals for 90 plus minutes on stage show after show is nothing short of amazing.
Of course, with any show with Michael Schenker in it, it is always going to come down to the guitars and Michael worked his way thought a few tonight to the delight of the audience, and he was on top form tonight not only playing, but just having such an obviously good time being out there right at the edge of the small stage here that had his fans just a few feet at most away from him.
This show for me was a bit like stepping back in time, and as I suspect for most of the audience too who seemed to be of a similar age to me and heard many of these songs first time round. I say that not just because of the music, but the fact that this show was something that you don’t get too much of these days – a headline act with a support band in a show that with 30 minute or so interval between acts ran from 7.30pm to nearly 10.30pm.
It was also great to see a star like Michael Schenker paying the fans some respect and providing a show with the full sound/performance package, songs that the fans want to hear and at a very realistic and affordable ticket price. This was not a case of sky high ticket prices, short set and an aloof band going through the motions, this was a band up on stage enjoying being with their fans as much as the fans were enjoying the show.
Supporting band tonight were “Venrez” from California –but for some reason despite obvious technical proficiency as musicians the audience just never seemed to get behind them tonight. Part of that may have been that certainly from where I was in the hall it was difficult to make out clearly the vocals of Venrez himself (maybe a sound mixing issue?). To be fair though, I think this could have happened to pretty much any support band tonight as the audience were I suspect mostly there for one man only, and touring with someone like Michael Schenker and his band can only be a positive influence in this band’s development.
For more information go to http://venreztheband.com/theband/
I have to admit here that at the time many of the classic songs played songs first came out, I was aware of them but listening to a lot of other musical styles too (a few of the albums went wherever those long lost records of your earlier days go to), so many of the people in the audience tonight are probably far more aware of Michael Schenker’s music than I am. That said though, I had forgotten how well put together many of these songs were and just how much fun they are to listen to (particularly live). I think Backbeat Records (a shop that has an incredible selection of vintage vinyl records for sale ) will be getting a visit soon as I try and replace some of those lost albums.
Also, on Michael’s own website at http://www.michaelschenkerhimself.com/home.php , I note that there is a DVD from this tour coming. Watch out for it.
Review by Tom King