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MARK TAYLOR'S BIG CITY NIGHTS
MICHAEL SCHENKER'S TEMPLE OF ROCK, SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON
Pictures by Stephen Fourie
Michael Schenker has enjoyed some career highs and some personal demonic lows in his life after hitting rock bottom. These past few years Schenker has turned his life around yet again towards a positive light that burns brightly for the German eccentric six string extraordinaire.
Schenker has came up with the pioneering idea of using different musicians from his recording past for different continents of the 'Temple Of Rock' tour. For Europe he has enlisted the help of singer Doogie White who proved that he and Schenker sounded good together right here at this very venue two years ago when he guested on the encore of 'Doctor Doctor'.
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Regular Wayne Findlay is on guitar and keyboards, but what got some older classic rockers' eyebrows raised was the addition of former Scorpions members, drummer Herman Rarebell and also bassist Francis Buchholz who hasn't performed on UK soil for 21 years since the Scorpions 'Crazy World' tour.
Exit State had the task of opening in front of an older audience who would not be too familiar with the young aspiring rockers from Burnley. In a thirty minute set they certainly won any doubters over with their post grunge classic inspired rock with deep hooks that have melody.
Singer Roy Bright sings with venom, yes sings and not growls, and the band have some neat numbers such as opener 'Black Veins' and 'Bad Days'. The Lancashire boys have themselves a special hot pot.
With Ritchie Blackmore busy dancing with the minstrels these days it could arguably be said that Schenker is the best Metal guitarist that's out there right now. One that plays with melody and feeling but with such an unpredictable direction and ease and one that totally engrosses the listener at every move. It could be said that Schenker is playing just as good now as he did at the pinnacle of his career.
As well as playing some numbers from the MSG period such as 'Armed And Ready' and the beautiful 'Cry For The Nations', the real treats came from the Scorpions catalogue. Although Michael Schenker was only a member of the band on their debut 'Lonesome Crow' (an album overlooked tonight), he did guest on the breakthrough 'Love Drive' which of course also featured both Buchholz and Rarebell.
From that album we got the three songs that Schenker originally guested on, namely the title track, the instrumental 'Coast To Coast' and the frantic 'Another Piece Of Meat', that really set the night alight.
Only one track from his recent 'Temple Of Rock' album was tightly slotted in with Doogie White taking control on 'Before The Devil Knows You're Dead' which was met with appreciative applause.
Schenker's time in UFO was never going to go amiss with storming versions of 'Lights Out', 'Let It Roll' and 'Shoot Shoot'. One surprising highlight was 'Rock You Like A Hurricane', a massive hit that Herman 'ze German' Rarebell co-wrote and it was great to see Buchholz thumping his right arm in the air to the beat just like he did back in 85 at festivals around the world.
And that was followed by a flawless jaw dropping 'Rock Bottom' featuring a sublime extended workout from the guitar maestro which had everyone crying for more.
With fine versions of The Scorpions classic 'Holiday' and a neck breaking 'Blackout', the set had to end with the timeless 'Doctor Doctor'.
Michael Schenker blitzed London tonight with an assault attack from his Flying V rocket that shook the Empire to it's foundations. We welcome the return of the mad axeman.
Check Out The Crazy
I Know Where You Live
Death Of A Rock Star
Into The Arena
Armed And Ready
Another Piece Of Meat
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Coast To Coast
Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
On And On
Let It Roll
Rock You Like A Hurricane