Michael Schenker - O2 City Hall, Newcastle 29.10.2021
Michael Schenker returned to Newcastle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of him being in the music business. At only 66 years old this means at 16 when I was still at school with no clue what I was doing he was already playing guitar in The Scorpions!!!
This latest tour is a look back over those fifty years taking in all the bands he has been in as well as his new material too. Kicking the night off with the instrumental 'Ascension' the band are tight and not holding back but the most obvious thing here is how happy they are being there, Michael is all smiles from the moment he walked out and this reflects in his dazzling fretwork as they then go back to the debut MSG album for 'Cry For The Nations' and then even further back to UFOs 'Phenomenon' for the all time crowd pleasing classic 'Doctor Doctor'.
The epic 23 song set darts back and forth across the years intertwined with newer tracks from the 'Immortal' album like 'Drilled To Kill' and the Dio like 'Sail The Darkness' which allows Ronnie Romero to show off that fantastic voice he possesses, along side Michael Schenker Fest tracks such as 'Warrior' and 'We Are The Voice'.
But it’s the classics that steal the show MSG - 'Into The Arena' , 'Armed and Ready', the beautiful 'In Search Of The Peace Of Mind' from where it all started back in 72 with his brother in The Scorpions. Michael’s guitar work is just incredible it’s one of the best performances I have seen him give over the many years I’ve caught him live and like I said earlier he just looks so happy up there beaming ear to ear! Saying that the whole band are in a great mood smiling and laughing with each other and a lot of crowd interaction with Ronnie not only posing for fans at the fronts phone pics but also taking one persons phone and taking a selfie for him.
The two and a half hour show flies by and the set comes to a huge climax with SIX UFO songs like a mini 'Strangers In The Night' starting with 'Rock Bottom' they’re taking no prisoners Schenker absolutely nailing that wonderful solo but also letting Steve Mann shine on second guitar and keyboards to the point of him telling the lighting chaps to put the spotlight on him over the mic . Barend Courbois and Bodo Shopf hold every thing together as the rhythm section throughout the night but it’s during these UFO songs where they excel allowing Michael and Steve to just do their thing without losing sight of the songs. In Ronnie Romero Schenker has found himself not only an incredible singer but also a brilliant frontman for the band. He looks every part the Classic Rock star singer up there in front of the mic BUT he also has a great connection with the crowd laughing and joking with them enjoying every minute of the set.
My only concern was how songs like 'Lights Out', 'Natural Thing', 'Shoot Shoot', 'Let It Roll' etc would fare with his voice being so totally opposite to that of Phil Moggs tones but that was short lived as once he started and I got my head around it he smashed it out of the park the same way he had with the rest of the set 'Only You Can Rock Me ( Rock Me)' echoing through the hall brought the night to a close and I would say a standing ovation but the crowd were on their feet from the moment the lights went out 150 minutes before! As stated earlier this was some of the best playing I have seen Michael perform since UFO days and he seems to be getting better every time! Roll on Stonedead Fest next year where I hope to see him once again.
Michael Schenker - https://www.facebook.com/MichaelSchenkerRocks
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