Michael Schenker Fest at the Academy: Live Review
Words: Daniel Thornton
Its half-7 at Manchester Academy and the venue is buzzing with activity, seemingly quite a few rock fans have tonight braved both the cold weather outside and the mayhem caused by the Manchester Derby, lucky for them we are all in for a treat.
Warming up the crowd for us tonight are Eden's Curse, a truly multinational band and a great fit for the bill. Playing songs full of energy and party vibes the band strut the stage obviously taking cues from their 80's influences (think Queensryche, Dokken, Saxon).
Bassist Paul Logue and singer Nikola Mijic play off each others energy really well and keep the crowd enthralled while the rest of the band, Thorsten Koehne – guitar, Chrism - keyboards and John Clelland – drums, lay the foundations of some really impressive rock music. The highlight of their set was the final song, Angels and Demons featuring guest vocalist Helen Hurd. I'm sorry to say I wasn't previously familiar with this band, I will however be keeping my eyes out for them again!
After a brief interval during which the venue started to fill, although sadly to nowhere near capacity, the lights dimmed and everybody is eagerly awaiting Mr Schenkers appearance. We didn't have long to wait and after the final notes of Back In Black by AC/DC fade away Michael Schenker came giddily running onto the stage beaming from ear to ear.
It was a grin which hardly left the legendary axemans face as he and his band, the Michael Schenker Fest tear through a set featuring enough hit rockers to make many more commercially successful American bands green with envy. Great songs are not the only thing in ample supply tonight as we are treated to vocal slots and duets by all three of the classic MSG era singers as well as current vocal man Doogie White (ex Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen).
Schenker’s guitar playing was without fault for the entire show, classic instrumentals Into the Arena and Captain Nemo sounded brilliant and you could tell he was enjoying playing them. Other highlights were Assault Attack, Armed and Ready and UFO classic Rock Bottom all of which are delivered with so much enthusiasm you could not help but get into the sprit of it all
Other than Schenker himself, bassist Chris Glen was also a standout. It was however the singers who were the big surprise of the night for me and while all four did decent jobs with their respective songs it was Robin McAuley, whose voice seems to be just as good as it was in his 80's heyday and Graham Bonnet who's shear power and stage presence on Assault Attack era Classics Desert Song and Dancer stole the show on the vocal front.
You can tell that for Schenker himself this tour is a celebration of a career playing with some of rocks greatest bands as songs by UFO and the Scorpions, such as Holiday and Coast to Coast, are scattered throughout the set list, a fact which isn't lost on Schenker as he recounts tales of his music being used without him being credited by another Blond German guitar player who shares the same last name.
Overall the music on show tonight was stellar, and the sound was excellent too. Mr Schenker and co outdid themselves, and support bands Eden's Curse were a nice surprise too, here's to hoping we get to catch all these great musicians and vocalists playing together again soon.
* Photos are from the 2017 Michael Schenker Fest In Manchester.