Michael Schenker | Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo
(Photo credit: Emili Muraki)
Towards the end of Michael Schenker’s ever-evolving eight-minute solo on ‘Rock Bottom’, rhythm guitarist/keyboard player Steve Mann looks across the stage with a smile of pure admiration. Just like the slack-jawed men in the audience, he knows he’s witnessing an absolute masterclass in guitar heroics that stretches way beyond this one song.
From the first note of set opener ‘Into The Arena’ to the final, celebratory riff of ‘Doctor Doctor’, Schenker does everything and more you want from a rock star – playing with speed, precision, and passion; raising the Flying V above his head during solos; high-fiving audience members mid-song – without breaking a sweat or missing a note.
He’s also clearly having the time of his life, playing his biggest hits to 5000 mesmerised fans at Tokyo’s International Forum, with original members of M.S.G. Apart from the no-nonsense rhythm section of bassist Chris Glen and drummer Ted McKenna, the axeman has reunited with the band’s vocal powerhouses: Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley.
With each singer performing a mini-set bookended by instrumentals, Barden kicks off proceedings with five songs from the 1980-1981 one-two punch ‘Michael Schenker Group’ and ‘MSG’, including a punchy ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’ and rapturously received ‘Armed and Ready’. Bonnet, whose original live tenure with the group was short-lived, struts on stage to belt out ‘Desert Song’, ‘Dancer’, and the title track of ‘Assault Attack’ like it’s 1982.
But it’s McAuley who comes closest to stealing the show from the man whose name is on the marquee. ‘This Is My Heart’ puts the “pow!” back in power-ballad, the title track of ‘Save Yourself’ rocks as hard as it did in ‘89, and ‘Love Is Not A Game’ certainly doesn’t play around, before UFO classics ‘Shoot Shoot’, ‘Rock Bottom’, and ‘Doctor Doctor’ (featuring all three singers) come in for the kill.
A novel concept, even at a time when reunions are all the rage, ‘Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo’ is masterfully executed and – as Mann will certainly attest – a joy to watch.
MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST “LIVE” TOKYO
FEATURING THE ORIGINAL MSG VOCALISTS
GARY BARDEN, GRAHAM BONNET AND ROBIN MCAULEY
Released Friday 24 March 2017
Available on 2CD, 2CD+DVD, Vinyl, DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital