Michael Schenker – “Michael Schenker Fest ‘Live’ Tokyo”

Michael Schenker – “Michael Schenker Fest ‘Live’ Tokyo” 2CD / DVD (inakustik)

Battle Helm Rating

A legendary virtuoso guitarist who started his career aged just 15 years old when he recorded his first album with the Scorpions, Michael Schenker went onto a stellar career in UFO then later establishing his own namesake band, MSG. When it came out in 1982, “One Night At Budokan” became a legendary double live album, cementing this revered status not in Japan, where he trod in the hallowed footsteps as a guitar god, but also internationally as a major headliner. Now, some 35 years later with Schenker back on a seemingly unstoppable roll himself in recent years, the return to the land of the rising sun to film and record this follow up as if determined by destiny. It brings full the circle of this remarkable man’s career, if jaded in the past by rock n roll demons, but always bedazzled by his fretboard brilliance. Ever the unpredictable, Schenker once again pulls yet another blinder on this occasion by bringing back all three original MSG vocalists along with bassist Chris Glenn! So joining him are Gary Barden, who was fired in favor of Graham Bonnet (who lasted one album and only one gig!) and Robin McAuley, along with drummer Ted McKenna and Steve Mann on guitar. Filmed at the 5,000 capacity Tokyo International Forum, which is visually bursting at the seams for this historic concert, the 18 tracks follow Schenker’s discography with Barden leading us through ‘Armed And Ready’ and ‘Cry For The Nations’. Although his voice doesn’t hit the highs as he used to, his persona and sheer enthusiasm certainly get the crowd going, with many eager to join in the singing. No such invitation is needed for Graham Bonnet! Still with a powering voice and touring, Mr Bonnet is more than ready for his own ‘Assault Attack’, eager to set a new decibel smashing record with his larynx that clearly wins the Tokyo crowd over by the time he croons over ‘Dancer’ and is joined by Robin McAuley on backing vocals. Needless to say, Schenker is on top form both mentally and physically, this being translated into his perfect performance dishing out those riffs and solos – so confident in fact, that on one occasion he warbles with one hand while taking a photo of the rapturous crowd with the other! While some of his past outlandish behavior may have raised questions a look at the bonus footage of soundchecks would attest to the serious aspect of the man, with his keen eye for detail and ensuring everything is in place for the perfect performance – a testimony to his artistry and respect for his fans! Less evident but still worthy of note is the jovial chemistry between all the band members backstage and during the soundcheck, making for a harmonious mood clearly dispensed in abundance during the live show i.e fun! Closing off the set come the classics of UFO in ‘Shoot Shoot’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, each one met with a roar, and when Schenker asks if the crowd still wants another – of course they roar – he hits them with ‘Doctor Doctor’ complete with a three vocal delivery from messrs Barden, Bonnet and McAuley! How Ted McKenna’s arms are still alive after this monumental set is beyond me, but the bouncing and still at it Chris Glenn’s beaming smile probably tell all – along with the faithful 5,000 in attendance.

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