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'Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo' – 2CD + DVD combo Release date: 24th March 2017 (inakustik)

24th March 2017

liz medhurst
Words: Liz Medhurst

michael schenker

Michael Schenker has earned the title of maestro many times over and demonstrates exactly why in this very tasty CD and DVD package.

Billed as Michael Schenker Fest, this gig was filmed in Tokyo in August 2016, so could be described as a sequel to 1982s 'One Night At Budokan', with only five shared tracks. The guitarist is reunited with three previous MSG vocalists – Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley - backed up with Steve Mann on guitar and keyboards, and the fantastically weighty rhythm section of former Sensational Alex Harvey Band alumni Chris Glen and Ted McKenna.

michael schenker

There's a large mix of former colleagues Schenker could have chosen, and for the setlist here he appears to have got it absolutely right. The vocalists perform the songs from their original eras, although there's nothing from Schenker's current project, Temple Of Rock (featuring another ex-Rainbow vocalist, Doogie White), bar the instrumental 'Searching For Freedom', played as an intro before the band take the stage.

First up is the earlier catalogue with Gary Barden, who is looking fine and striding around with a fantastic energy. 'Attack Of The Mad Axeman' and 'Cry For The Nations' sound particularly striking.

Instrumental 'Coast To Coast' - the only Scorpions song in the set - marked a change in Schenker's guitar and a change in vocalist as Graham Bonnet is up next. He has the fewest solo tracks of the three, but they are good ones, and the richness to Bonnet's voice is still there, even if slightly tempered now.

michael schenker

Moving into the more melodic rock period of the band, with a slight name change to McAuley Schenker Group, it was so great to see Robin McAuley again. The songs from this era have stood the test of time really well and the amount of hands in the air and singing along from the audience showed they would probably agree.

McAuley also takes the lead for UFO numbers 'Shoot Shoot' and 'Rock Bottom' before everyone Is back on the stage for 'Doctor Doctor'.

It's Michael though who is the undisputed star of the show, looking so happy and relaxed and taking delight in every note. Tis recent run of form has lasted so long now it's difficult to remember a time when he wasn't at the top of his game.

michael schenker

There's not many guitarists that can hold being the centre of attention for an entire set, usually deputising this task to the vocalists, but Michael Schenker is the exception. He's stunning throughout, but 'Rock Bottom' is the pinnacle, with that stunning riff and an extended solo which is truly breathtaking.

The package itself is impressive, with a fantastic sound mix on the DVD and the accompanying CDs. It's great to see all this happening close up and the camera work is pitched pretty much perfectly. There's not too much jumping around at speed yet still plenty of views of all the band members, capturing the atmosphere and the little touches of communication between everyone.

michael schenker

Even with no 'Lights Out' or 'Rock You Like A Hurricane' this performance is so strong that they aren't missed and this stands as an excellent package in its own right. One of the DVD bonus features is a montage of clips from the soundcheck and this shows how comfortable the interactions are between Schenker and the band. As he says himself: "It felt incredibly natural, as if it was always like this... no problems, just pure fun."

A worthy addition to the collection - and there's another chance to see this line-up in action, with these recently announced UK dates:

Thursday 2nd November: O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Friday 3rd November: O2 Academy Sheffield
Saturday 4th November: O2 Ritz, Manchester
Sunday 5th November: Hull City Hall, Hull

Tickets are available right here.

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monsters of rock

Monsters Of Rock In Full Flight is strictly limited to 300 worldwide and is available from 30th November but those ordering before 31st October will have their name published within a dedicated page in the book.

It's a deluxe 128 page hardback book in a metal flight case with a narrative by Jerry Bloom.

When promoter Paul Loasby put on the first Monsters Of Rock Festival in 1980 he could probably never have imagined it would become an annual event that would endure for so many years.

Featuring bands from the UK, Germany, Canada and USA, Loasby chose to stage the event at the Donington race circuit in the middle of England and it would prove to be a defining moment for many of the bands on the bill.

Not least for headliners Rainbow as it was the their last ever show to feature drum legend Cozy Powell. As it would happen it turned out to be the last for vocalist Graham Bonnet as well. For many of the other bands on the bill such as Scorpions, Judas Priest and Saxon, they were all on the ascendancy and would soon go on to even greater success.

Now in celebration of this first ever Monsters Of Rock Festival comes this hardback book full of glorious photos of the bands that took to the stage for that inaugural event including back stage shots. Most of these shots have not been published before which add to the uniqueness of this deluxe 128-page book which is packaged in its own flight case.

Also included are stories surrounding the event with tales and recollections from those who were there, including artists and fans alike. Each book will be signed by the author. The 300 will sell fast and definitely go on to become collector's items so order yours now right here to avoid disappointment.


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