After playing what was a much acclaimed set at last summer's High Voltage Festival in London, Michael Schenker returns to the UK for a handful of shows in support of rock solid latest album Temple of Rock. SoT staff writer Dean Pedley is on hand to witness the opening night in Wolverhampton as Schenker and his band delivers a career spanning set that takes in the very best of UFO, Scorpions and MSG.
The touring line-up for Temple of Rock has been ever changing as it moves across the globe, and the European variation is fronted by former Rainbow and current Tank vocalist Doogie White. Holding down the rhythm section is the former Scorpions pairing of drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Buchholz with the line-up completed by MSG's Wayne Findlay in the "Paul Raymond" role on keyboards and additional guitars. Immediately hitting their stride with the opening showcase of "Into The Arena" it is clear the band are incredibly well prepared as they proceed into the clarion call of "Armed and Ready", Doogie White bursting onto the stage and his vocals sounding remarkably clear in what is a tightly packed venue.
Grinning from ear to ear the master of the Flying V is in inspired form as he leads the band through Scorpions classics "Lovedrive" and "Another Piece of Meat" before we are back to MSG and "Cry of the Nations". A surprise inclusion is "Assault Attack" from the much underrated album of the same name that featured Graham Bonnet before White gets a break as it is back to Lovedrive and the sublime instrumental "Coast to Coast". With three former Scorpions on stage this is a superb rendition and makes for a wonderful trip down memory lane for fans of the German legends. Herman "Ze German" gets his moment in the spotlight for "Rock You Like A Hurricane", a song which he composed the lyrics for, as he urges the crowd into a call and response as the classic anthem is delivered with tremendous energy.
For all of the good music that came after his departure few would argue that Schenker-era UFO was their golden age. Revisiting Strangers In The Night for "Shoot Shoot", "Lights Out" and the joyous romp that is "Rock Bottom", he reels off the solos with a renewed enthusiasm. White does a creditable job in handling Phil Mogg's distinctive, frazzled, style before handing over to the crowd for much of the sentimental, swaying, Scorpions ballad "Holiday". A shimmering "Blackout" gives way to the roaring crescendo of "Doctor Doctor" that ends the performance in blistering fashion.
When Michael Schenker puts on a display such as this he is simply captivating and offers the perfect example of what delivering a great rock show is all about.
Into the Arena
Armed and Ready
Another Piece of Meat
Cry for the Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Coast to Coast
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
On and On
Let It Roll
Rock You Like a Hurricane
Reviewed by Dean Pedley
Concert images by Stephen Fourie