MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – ‘ON A MISSION LIVE IN MADRID’ DVD REVIEW
MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – ‘ON A MISSION LIVE IN MADRID’ DVD REVIEW
It was 1979 when I last saw Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz take to the stage with the Scorpions, but back then it was Mattias Jabbs who was again stepping in for Schenker.
Schenker, at the time was rumoured not to be in the best of health, and soon after he left the Scorpions to go on and form his own band, the Michael Schenker Group.
It wasn’t until the following year, with the release of the Michael Schenker Group LP, that Schenker would grace the boards of Newcastle’s City Hall – where I stood waiting, front row, to see the ex-Scorpions guitarist at his best.
“Lovedrive” had not long been released, an album which many still consider to this day to be one the Scorpions best.
Some 35 years later, Schenker is still as strong and as popular as ever, and it was decided to record their Nov 19th 2015 live show for the fans of this master guitar player.
First up after the short “Ocean Odyssey” intro was “Doctor Doctor”, a no-holds barred classic rock-night dance floor filler if ever there was one, which got the audience in the perfect mood for a night of classic rock, familiar riffs and intricate guitar, leading straight into “Live And Let Live” from the CD, “Spirit On A Mission”
“Lights Out” had the crowd singing along and it took them seamlessly into “Where The Wild Wind Blows”… which, by comparison, is a relatively new song coming off Schenker’s album, “Bridge The Gap”
It was good to hear “Natural Thing” from the classic 1976 UFO album ‘No Heavy Petting’ and the 2009 reissue of MSG’s 1981 LP, especially for those who missed it first time around on vinyl. “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” from Schenker’s debut T.O.R. CD is a melodic track with a great singalong chorus and really showcases schenker’s classic guitar sound to the full.
“Victim Of Illusion” has a great groove and was the only track from the first LP to feature in the set list of the Madrid show.
“Lovedrive” – well, what can I say? It’s just one of those classics and instantly recognisable to every fan young and old. “Coast to Coast” follows after and completed the venture into the Lovedrive albums back catalogue.
“Vigilante Man” is the single released from “Spirit on a Mission” and opened with a tongue in cheek intro into the world of corruption, and a change of guitar to a red and black Flying V.
I wondered what the Spanish crowd thought of Doogie’s broad Scottish accent as he told them the show was being filmed in 4K HD, sounding unsure himself as to what this new technology was, but positive it would be gratefully welcomed by the fans.
“Rock My Nights Away”, the lead track from “Built to Destroy” kept the crowd rocking and hungry for some more well loved tracks.
Introducing the band prior “Saviour Machine”, Michael returned to the stage with his custom made double neck Flying V, known as the Flying M, and cheekily claimed by Doogie to be a Christmas Present, a guitar I think only Schenker could pull off, and one which he actually looked comfortable playing.
I was just yesterday talking about how Blackmore only chooses the best singers to compliment his musical work, and his having chosen Doogie to sing on Ritchie’s own 1995 CD, “Stranger In Us All” speaks for itself about Doogie’s vocal capacity as a rock singer.
Doogie’s powerful voice and occasional falsetto compliments Schenker’s style of hard melodic rock perfectly, and Doogie sang the old songs as they were meant to be heard – but with a touch of his own interpretation on some vocal lines.
The old songs retained their original retro sound, but by adding his mark and style to a few favourites, he gave them a refreshing lift.
“Too Hot To Handle” was another well placed song in the set which definitely kept the older fans very energised, and the younger ones eager for more.
“Only You Can Rock Me” had the audience singing along and was another staple song in a set peppered with the best of 4 decades of much loved rock anthems.
Apparently, Thursday night in Madrid is drinking night, according to Doogie, and he encouraged the crowd to raise a glass to the “Lord of the Lost and Lonely”.
To be honest, “Lord Of The Lost and Lonely”, with its slightly cheesy chorus is, for me, probably the weakest track on the set list, which, in my humble opinion, could have easily been replaced with either one of my two personal favourites – “Armed And Ready” or “Into The Arena” or a even an old Scorpions / UFO track that had never or rarely been played live.
Francis Buchholz, I have to say for 62 looked remarkably young. Personally, I think he’s been helping himself to his Aunties Oil of Ulay. Either that, or he has an amazing plastic surgeon, who’s business card may also have been in the pocket of Duran Duran’s John Taylor.
Herman Rarebell introduced the next track with a single hard hitting snare that brought into play everyone’s favourite… “Rock You Like A Hurricane”.
“Rock Bottom” just added to an over all great mix of classic Scorpions, UFO and occasional track from the MSG band from the 1980/84 era.
Rather than the band leaving the stage for a full on guitar solo from Schenker, “Rock Bottom” was lengthened with an extended guitar solo from the man himself, who, to everyone’s surprise, suddenly did a Kip Winger mid play and whipped out his camera! Leaving the band to carry the music, he proceeded to photograph them as they ended the final bars of the song, much to the delight of the fans and their chants of “Ole …Ole Ole Ole…”
Leaving the stage briefly, they returned with their final four tracks of the evening:
“Horizons”, “Attack of the Mad Axeman”, “Communion” and ending with the rapturous anthem, “Blackout” – where Wayne is given the only opportunity of a brief guitar solo, after having played non stop rhythm and keyboards during the whole show.
The entire band were energetic, eager and they all looked noticeably happy.
Herman, going by the constant smiles beaming out from behind his drums, enjoyed the gig as much as the fans, and came out from behind his drum kit to take center stage to thank the audience personally.
With an open history of troubled times spanning 40 plus years, as a true professional, Schenker still holds the audience’s attention with his familiar sound, and his melodic and technical playing of those famous Flying V’s.
The evening with the guitar virtuoso was held on a very small stage that provided a close, intimate connection to the fans, who at times seemed to gather almost worshipfully round Schenker when he occasionally took center stage at tonight’s Temple of Rock.
The evenings concert was hosted by the small Joy Eslava Theatre, a three tier venue in Madrid. It is available on a 2 disc CD, DVD, Blu-ray (recorded with a Dolby 3D mix), a Deluxe Edition and the penultimate version of quality 4K HD – the latter of which will not only make you feel you are right there… watching and listening front row, but will also give you the feeling you could actually reach out and touch that iconic black and white Flying V.
Now aged 61, Michael still plays as proficiently as he ever did, and has retained a loyal legion of fans from his early days with the Scorpions to the present day Temple of Rock.
I loved the show in 1980 and if they had of played “Into the Arena” or “Armed and Ready” as part of the set, that would have made my day. Watching the DVD brought back some very happy memories of seeing Schenker play at Newcastle’s famous City Hall some 36 years ago, and recalling how awesome he was back then, I am pleased to see and say now, how commanding he still remains to this day.
Words by Dixie
1. “Ocean Odyssey – Intro”
2. “Doctor Doctor”
3. “Live and Let Live”
4. “Lights Out”
5. “Where the Wild Winds Blow”
6. “Natural Thing”
7. “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”
8. “Victim of Illusion”
10. “Coast to Coast”
11. “Vigilante Man”
12. “Rock My Nights Away”
13. “Saviour Machine”
14. “Too Hot to Handle”
15. “Only You Can Rock Me”
16. “Lord of the Lost and Lonely”
17. “Rock You Like a Hurricane”
18. “Rock Bottom”
20. “Attack of the Mad Axeman”