MICHAEL SCHENKER'S TEMPLE OF ROCK
April 1st 2015
Photo by Anthony Crawford
I've augmented this gig report with a great many photographs courtesy of the wonderful members of the Facebook group Michael Schenker.
Michael Schenker and his Temple Of Rock raised the ante for their Spirit On A Mission US Tour 2015 by bringing along to the States for the first time their recording and European touring partners from the classic era Scorpions, drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Buchholz and it's paying off in spades.
This show was the first of the tour and while there were moments where it looked more like a dress rehearsal (understandably so, as the band had to cancel their first three shows and any prep when work visa issues slowed their entry into the US), but in fact, they had the crowd eating out of their hands from the moment they walked onstage until they strode of in victory two hours later.
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Photo by Patrick John
As the band continues to morph into its own entity as Temple Of Rock, and less as The Michael Schenker Group, they are introducing more new material and depending less on the once mercurial guitarist's vast catalog of hard rock history with The Scorpions, UFO, and his own MSG imprint.
Doogie White seems to be stepping up in his role as frontman more comfortably with each tour and while it's still readily clear that he much prefers singing his own material to that of Schenker's past vocalists (and I don't blame him a bit for this, but many longtime fans do), he certainly put on a great show this night.
While there's no questioning the skills and talent of players like Pete Holmes and Rev Jones, I never felt that they were the optimal solution for this band, having never been a part of the original recordings. They are both great players, but the addition of Rarebell and Buchholz elevates this act considerably.
Herman Rarebell brings astounding power to Schenker's signature riffs, and Buchholz has always been the very model of what a hard rock bassist should be - they both look to be having the time of their lives and they spend much time exchanging smiles with the once sullen Mad Axeman. They fit this band like a glove.
Wayne Findlay brings his usual dependable performance and affable manner to fill out the band in style.
Photo by Anthony Crawford
And how is Metal Mikey? He's on top of the world. He's playing as well as ever, he's literally beaming from the minute he walks onstage and I've never seen him look happier or more content with himself, his bandmates and his surroundings.
His newest bunch of Dean Signature Model Guitars seems extremely to his liking and he's finally becoming what his potential always suggested. It's fantastic to see someone leave their demons and become who they really are inside.
Photo by David Bonczek
The setlist includes selections from the band's last two albums, a healthy dose of 'Lovedrive'-era Scorpions (and Rarebell's signature composition, 'Rock You Like A Hurricane', and a smaller dose of UFO and MSG than we've had in the past.
The band on this night was just a little bit sluggish but from watching video clips from subsequent shows and in talking with many longtime Schenker enthusiasts (we call them Schenkies) any skittishness was simply a matter of first night adjustments and have been worked out into well oiled bliss.
Photo by Cesar Perez
This tour is less than a week old, and is already garnering the best press that Schenker has seen in America in decades so get your tickets now as shows are selling out briskly. This band is definitely providing the temple for the converted to have their day in the electric church of rock 'n' roll and your attendance should be a no brainer.
This is a prime chance to see one of, if not the best guitarist of his ilk displaying his wares across America and that's getting to be an all too rare thing, so hit it while the iron's hot.