Friday, 17 March 2017

Michael Schenker Fest `Live In Tokyo` Review

Photo Credit: © Emili Muraki

At 62, Michael Schenker really shows no signs of slowing down, his first foray way back in 1970 with The Scorpions at the tender age of 15, onto UFO by his early 20’s and finally his own solo workings in the Michael Schenker Group in the latter stages of the 70’s. Michael Schenker is certainly one of those guitarists and figures in hard rock and metal that’s revered by fans and other guitarists as he continues to perform worldwide. 

Not sounding to vein in his own approach, the Michael Schenker Fest coming live from Tokyo’s international Forum contains a who’s who of past MSG singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley all take up the mic. It also features 18 tracks from the history of the MSG fellowship as well as from Michael’s time in UFO. 

So before we dive into the main section of the DVD aka the concert, there is a small section for special features. There’s a chance to see some still images from the concert and then a 12 minute look into sound checking, which unless you’re already a stage hand or looking into that career it does little to show what we don’t already know. It’s not very informative and rather than this, personally, I feel an interview or a gear tour would have benefited fans and newbie’s to Schenker more so. 

Traditionally filming in Japan especially at a seated venue, you’re not likely to get a very raucous crowd yet when watching `Schenker Fest` you’re here to hear and watch in awe at Michael Schenker, after all it’s his face on the huge banner backdrop. The noise of a highly precise guitar lead fills the arena as the band appear on stage with Michael appearing with his iconic two tone black and white Flying V’s. Personally, I’m not fully aware of a lot of MSG songs or U.F.O. so going in on the songs pretty blind so don’t over judge. 

One of the songs to catch my ear is `Armed and Ready’ sung by Gary Barden. `Armed and Ready’ felt like the band was warmed up by now and firing well with a bit more crowd participation. 

As there are 3 vocalists on hand, you bet that they would all combine on certain songs that include `Dancer` and the last song of the set `Doctor, Doctor` made famous under Michael’s time as lead guitarist for U.F.O. `Doctor, Doctor` is a staple rock hit and one that is known worldwide and used by a famous British band before they come on stage. The song highlights Michael’s ability to play tasty licks that become memorable and certainly sing able which is how you know you’ve written a great riff, lick or lyric. 

You can really understand what era of arena rock Schenker holds dear to his heart with a wall of Marshall Amps stacked neatly behind him and the band, his tone and his presence really do overpower, although why not he’s certainly earned that respect. Although, I would like to add please cut the ends of your guitar strings Mr Schenker. 

Overall, this isn’t going to be a DVD that will blow you away unless you’ve followed MSG to see all 3 vocalists on stage and sharing that stage simultaneously. Yet for those of us who are fairly uninitiated towards the Michael Schenker song arsenal, I feel that you can pick for the smorgasbord of tracks from the set list to really get that ball rolling. Personally, as mentioned earlier, I feel that a nice documentary or interview with band members would have provided someone like myself with more of a launch pad to know if this was an important event. 

7/10- Not a MSG fan, you will be, you will be. Extra features would have benefited and pushed rating up.

Stand out tracks:
`Armed And Ready’, `Dancer’ and `Doctor, Doctor’ 

Track Listing: 
Intro: Searching For Freedom 
Into The Arena 
Attack Of The Mad Axeman ft. Gary Barden 
Victim Of Illusion ft. Gary Barden 
Cry For The Nations ft. Gary Barden 
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ft. Gary Barden 
Armed And Ready ft. Gary Barden 
Coast To Coast 
Assault Attack ft. Graham Bonnet 
Desert Song ft. Graham Bonnet 
Dancer ft. Graham Bonnet 
Captain Nemo 
This Is My Heart ft. Robin McAuley 
Save Yourself ft. Robin McAuley 
Love Is Not A Game ft. Robin McAuley 
Shoot Shoot ft. Robin McAuley 
Rock Bottom ft. Robin McAuley 
Doctor Doctor ft. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley 

Michael Schenker on the net: