I saw Schenker about two months ago supporting Priest and I was very impressed with both him and his band Temple of Rock. I vowed to catch him again sooner or later and as it turns out it was much sooner than I expected. Although I must say that I was a bit dubious about going to this gig. First of all it's a bit cold and my health hasn't been the best. Anyway I bit the bullet and bought a ticket for this show in the balcony so at least I didn't have to stand up which is getting more and more taxing the older and wider I get!
The venue for this gig was a new one to me although it was pretty close to the Islington Academy, being the Islington Assembly Hall, about half a mile up the road so I had to get the bus up there as it was real cold Saturday night and I didn't fancy the walk at all. I got to the venue and saw the tale tell queue of old farts waiting for Schenker. And yes the queue was definitely made up of mostly old people reminiscing with Herr Schenker over old times!
The venue was quite a nice place although I didn't get a look at the downstairs and headed straight up to the balcony to find a nice comfy seat. All the front rows were taken so I settled on a seat four rows back and waited for the support band to come on. They did so at 8 sharp and they were a Cali band and I had no idea who they were and I still don't! I couldn't even be bothered to check out facebook or search google for the support details for the gig tonight to get an inkling. The problem was these rockers were bloody terrible. They wouldn't know a tune if it walked up and hit them on the head. I don't think the muted response to the band from the filled out crowd did them any favours either. The singer had a boring voice devoid of a catchy melody and the guitars were pretty boring. No cool riffs really and no decentish memorable songs. To the moment that I'm writing this line, I haven't even had the urge to go and find out which band they were.
So finally it was time for Temple of Rock to get things started with the intro tape of Highway to Hell before the Temple of Rock theme tune and straight into first song proper Doctor Doctor. Damn it was so god to hear and actual tune after the support band's mind numbingly boring set. Doctor x2 blew out the cobwebs and the band sounded great. Schenker's guitar sounded awesome, very clean indeed, whilst Doogie was in great form on the mic. This was the last night of the European tour so the band gave it their all for the last night though I'm sure inside they were probably glad there wouldn't be any more nights!
Not that fatigue showed in their performance, or if it did, they hid it pretty well. Doogie is a great front man and his vocals were pretty great and his Scottish humour comes out from time to time as well which always raises a chuckle from the gathered old timers in the crowd. The band played a lot of songs which I don't know, not being a huge UFO or Scorps fan and not having heard either Temple of Rock albums either. However this never hindered my enjoyment of the show much at all. Once they start playing a song, it sounds like meeting a long lost old friend again, and it's not hard to enjoy it and carry the emotion.
Songs which I liked most were Lovedrive, Too Hot to Handle and the endlessly sing along and Brilliant Rock You Like A Hurricane which just never gets old. The main set ended with the UFO staple Rock Bottom complete with a fully extended Schenker jam out which I managed to record in full. After a long thank you Doogie said they would go back to the dressing room and wait for the cheers for the encores, but the dressing room is far away and they'd much rather just stay on as the corridors are a bit chilly! That got roars of approval as they launched into a 3 song encore of tunes and ended at close to 11 after a near two hour set of classic songs from throughout Schenker's career.
It seems as though Michael has rejuvenated himself having controlled his demons and kicked the booze to one side. So kudos to the band and Michael himself for their efforts and a great show by all round and this from someone who can never claim to have been a long time fan. If you ever get a chance to catch Temple of Rock, go for it even if you're not a huge fan. It's a fun evening of classic rock by top class musicians.
playback - Highway to Hell
Temple of Rock Theme Tune
Live and Let Live
Where the Wild Winds Blow
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Victim of Illusion
(Michael Schenker Group song)
Coast to Coast
Too Hot to Handle
Lord of the Lost and Lonely
Rock You Like a Hurricane
Attack of the Mad Axeman
(Michael Schenker Group song)