GIG REVIEW: An Evening With MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST Live at Royal Oak Music Theatre, MI
Michael Schenker Fest took diehard fans at the Royal Oak Music Theatre on a musical safari through the past, present, and future. Michael Schenker Fest is the ensemble crafted by Michael Schenker featuring former MSG vocalists Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley with current Michael Schenker Temple Of Rock vocalist Doogie White. The group also boasts venerable MSG alumni Steve Mann (guitar/keyboards), Ted McKenna (drums), and Chris Glen (bass).
The show started out with local glam rockers Artifical Agent. They reeled off their own blend of 80’s inspired hair metal and hard rock. A spunky performance caught the attention of some the rockers in the audience.
With the dropping of the house lights, “Highway to Hell” from AC/DC kicked out to pump up the crowd. As the AC/DC tune faded, the maestro of the flying V, Michael Schenker smiled at the audience and the band launched into the instrumental “Into The Arena”. Tears filled my eyes with joy.
The entire crowd had their eyes and ears locked on the stage to witness their guitar hero in action. As Michael’s guitar launched fiery notes into the air, Steve Mann, Ted McKenna and Chris Glen kept the ship rock steady. You couldn’t ask for a better foundation for this tour de force.
Michael welcomed Gary Barden to the stage for such classics as “Cry for the Nations” and “Attack of the Mad Axeman”. Gary plays to the audience inviting them to become part of the show. They mixed in the new song “Messing Around” from the new ‘Resurrection’ album with Robin McCauley making a guest appearance to provide backing vocals.
Michael makes a guitar switch and informed the crowd that next year will be the 40th anniversary of the Scorpions ‘Lovedrive’ album. He informed the audience that he gave the song “Coast to Coast” to his brother Rudolph as a gift. This singing instrumental set the stage for the entrance of Graham Bonnet. Graham’s voice was as strong and powerful as ever on “Desert Song”. Gary and Robin also jokingly referred to as the “Schenker-rettes” came on stage to lend backing vocals for the new songs “Dancer” and “Night Moods” from ‘Resurrection’.
The instrumental “Captain Nemo” offered another chance for Michael to switch guitars and dazzle his fans with the sparkling notes from his guitar. Next up on stage was Robin McCauley. Robin was ready to rock with soaring vocals on “Bad Boys” and “Save Yourself”. As with each featured vocalist, Robin was joined by Gary, Graham, and Doogie White for “Heart and Soul” from the new album.
The final set opened with the classically inspired instrumental “Searching For Freedom” before bringing vocalist Doogie White. Doogie hit the high notes with gusto on “Vigilante Man”, the new track called “Take Me to the Church” as well as the tribute to Ronnie James Dio on “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead”.
Michael brought all the vocalists on stage for a powerful performance of “Warrior” before they busted into the crowd favorite UFO song “Rock Bottom”. Michael cast a spell upon the audience with a mesmerizing guitar solo. There was no denying his musical genius as Schenker crafted his lyrical solo. As Michael bridged back into the end of “Rock Bottom”, the band gathered around the kit of Ted McKena who cracked a brief drum solo to cap off the song and the set.
The band bowed and left the stage, yet the crowd was calling for more with chants of “UFO”. Michael asked if they still wanted more and the chorus was “Yes!”. The band indulged the fans with the UFO classics “Doctor Doctor”, “Shoot Shoot”, and “Lights Out” before calling it an evening.
Michael Schenker Fest gave fans a golden opportunity to witness the past, present and future of Michael Schenker. Featuring an all-star band and the iconic vocals of Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and Doogie White; Michael Schenker focused the spotlight on the breadth of his vast musical accomplishments. The band showed their appreciation to their fans by engaging them and making them part of this awesome performance.