Michael Schenker Fest - Nov 13th, 2018, Wytwornia Club, Lodz, Poland

Dear Dino Friends,

Time and again it's been a while... out (again). Won't dwell into it - I just want to share my excitement with you guys 'n galz... I had this ultimate privillege to stand in the front row at the feet of the Almighty Michael Schenker on Tuesday night. What a blessed 2,5 hours it was!

The band itself could be a subject of a bit of debate to me. Chris Glen and Ted McKenna - the classic rhythym section of the "Assault Attack" - what can I say - immensely kicking guys - both of them. I quite do not know how they pull off these shows so well at their age and with those signs of obesity they have (quite huge in case of Glen). Still, if Chris was the fattest guy on stage - still hats off to him, he was prancing and doing crazy antics to the band fellows and audience all along. Ted - the Powerhouse - so huge since the Rory Gallagher days - still sounds amazing too, no power loss at all.

And the fragile part: The Primadonnas. Four of them, Bitches, actually. Quite often in fact all singing at the same time in the "one lead plus three backing ones" set-up. Well, bad news, Gary Barden is a sad and very filthy joke now, he should be dumped immediately for the good of the show. Don't get me wrong - I love his singing from the 80-ties. Even on Silver project albums he sounded great. But live... It's bits, pieces and shambles. Gary, I'm sorry... You're a legend, still - get a cure or let go.

With all his incapabilities - Graham Bonnet was - in comparison to Gary John - fresh as a daisy, with only the middle range out, occasional squeaks and creeks and losing breath closer to the end of each tune. Still, animated like a Muppet on steroids, he moves around the stage with his usual antics and energy of a freak. I'm so happy I finally saw him live - and it still was a joy even with the reservation on his sound. And, of course, double Rainbow combo as a bonus - Dougie's in the bag. He did really well, nothing too splendid, very solid. The real star of the divas sector was Robin McAuley. I don't know why the guy gets so much flak from everybody. Looks great (bar the shitload of tatoos) and still sings like a ringing bell - and that's really needed for Michael's music which - in the end - is damn melodic, FFS!

And the King, The Almighty, The Ruler of the Axe. I'm still in awe, gobsmacked, smashed and slashed. I know what I witnessed and I don't think I can still fully understand it. He looks like his own young him again. Really, you will not give him 63 he has and after all the roliing and tumbling he's put himself through. There is this eerie halo of the slowed-down moves denouncing the age, but his mind and his fingers haven't lost anything. A miracle of some sort, truly. He was playing his ass off, interacting with audience - and it was clear - HE IS HAVING A BLAST doing this. And his craft is totally on, dead in spot. You all know why we revere the guy so much. He's no bullshit, no fireworks. Simple setup, V-axes, a bit of Wah, echo, his mind and his fingers. And he was mindblowing, all the way through. It was such a bliss to see it from the distance of one to five meters at max. Like a dream. It was like he played almost just for me. No video could get me something as up and close and personal as this. Moments of loss in bliss were aplenty - "Attack Of The Mad Axemen", "Coast To Coast"... "Desert Song" sounded flooring and absolutely massive - it's so epic to wittness. My beloved "Only You Can Rock Me" - I almost lost it there - THIS FREAKING SOLO THAT I LOVE SO MUCH - just played right in front of my eyes... Paradise! Wish it had never ended.

The part of the show closer to the end was packed up with UFO classics, so the hall has gone just freakin' wild. It was sooo great. And the German Axeman bombed Poland to bits and pieces for the very end.

"Rock Bottom".

Lasting twenty freaking minutes total, with all the middle improv full blown on and the closing section going on for ages (complete with Ted Mc Kenna's drum work out at the very end).

Forgive me the swearing but... It was un-fucking-belieavable. I hid my phone and just watched, flown away for ten minutes - just looking at these fingers doing all this crazy stuff in the middle... And Mickey did kind of flow away... A life threatening experience. I saw Vinne Moore UFO doing it twice and loved it but... All the world can go to hell and cry it's eyes into the endless fire. It's Michael's child, he ultimately nails it, and posesses it - top to bottom, tip to toe, start to finish. Must be one of the best things guitar-wise I have ever seen in my life and I've seen plenty so far. Yes, smack me, I haven't seen Schenky live before... so it was kind a bit of like losing virginity but the realms of pleasure were amazing. The way he plays it... it's just him bar NO ONE. Sorry, chaps. No one. And I kind of think that is why we look up to him so much, he really is an inspiration - this sound and this phrasing is simply irreplaceble, one of a kind.

And I am so happy to confirm it as an eye wittness: Michael does seem reborn. Full flight, great form, finally enjoying his craft and playing for his freak-fans. There could have not been a better scenario and I am so glad for him. And happy about this close-up experience. It's almost frightening to think that I was on the brink of almost no-go due to crazy logistics... but! Veni, vidi, vici. On the day of my Mum's 70th birthday I saw one of the best guitar gigs I've ever been to. 'Appy days as Mick Box says.

If you yet haven't seen Schenker yet... go if you only have your chance, as long as he's back. There's never gonna be another one like him.

(C) (P) Martin (Sunredsun)

PS. Photos are all mine, done with mobile, so they are by no means state of art, but will give you a glimpse of what my eyes saw.


  • Wow that's some review !!!

    I last saw Schenker 5 or 6 years ago when he was supporting Black Country Communion.  He was good, but not great.  Having said that, it was way better than the bumbling mess he had been previously.

    I've missed the current UK dates, but now my juices are running and will catch him next time round for sure !!
  • When I saw them in NYC a few months ago, Gary sang pretty well on the old stuff. He had the odd crack here and there and ducked some high notes, but to me, it was preferable to seeing someone else sing those songs.  It's probably a case of him having good nights and not-so-good nights.  Brian Johnson got tossed out of AC/DC fairly recently, but I remember seeing AC/DC MANY times in the 80s, and his voice was ALWAYS shot after 3 songs. 

    This footage was taken by the guy standing right next to me. We were right in front of Michael, so it's hard to hear the vocals well in the clip, but you can hear them enough to hear he wasn't a disaster on that night. 

    It was no secret that Barden's voice -- the voice we hear on the first two MSG albums, was shot by the time of Built to Destroy. That said, when they reunited for In the Midst of Beauty, they played to his current range, and that worked well IMO.  For my money, he's Schenker's best MSG songwriting partner by miles.  The other guys aren't even close, despite Assault Attack being a great album.

    When I saw them, Bonnett was reading his lyrics off 11x17 sheets because he couldn't remember them and hadn't bothered to learn them.  He wasn't even trying to be stealthy about it either. He explained what he was doing to the crowd and was fumbling with the sheets.  He sang great, though.

    McCauley sang as well as he sings, too. His voice has a quirky quality that I never cared for, but he did well.
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 8,001

    Well...my favorite MSG song is probably Desert Song (in tough competition with several others off of AA, not to mention the Barden greats like Sleeping Dogs, But I Want More, etc) . And DS is just Bonnet and Schenker I believe on the writing.

    But Dave is right, Graham's songwriting can be frustratingly hit or miss, it's one of the reasons I didn't take up his offer on a writing collaboration early on (though I might consider something like that apart from my original project).

    I remember early during Graham's reunion with Michael the former was late sending me some background vocals for Lv2 and I was tired of waiting. He wrote me "well, you did want me back in MSG, so there ya go!". I laughed and took it easy.

  • I saw Mad Mikey with Uli in 2011. To this day one of the best concerts I have ever seen, period. And I have seen plenty, as you said. Rock Bottom was stellar, as good as the version on SITN (there, I said it) I actually laugh when i remember an article on a local newspaper, where the reporter apparently interviewed fans after the concert. The headline was "Local fans agree Schenker played the best version of Rock Bottom in years last night" LOL.
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    I totally felt the same when I attended the last Schenker concert at the 2nd row, right in face of him. It's something special, he has that feeling, just incredible.
    BTW I bought this JCM800 2205 recently: with my 1981 Flying V plugged straight in, it's really close, I just don't have the hands !

  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 8,001
    edited November 2018
     yngwie666 said:
    I totally felt the same when I attended the last Schenker concert at the 2nd row, right in face of him. It's something special, he has that feeling, just incredible.
    BTW I bought this JCM800 2205 recently: with my 1981 Flying V plugged straight in, it's really close, I just don't have the hands !

    This is beautiful <3
    Post edited by Haffner on
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 8,935
    yngwie666 said:
    I totally felt the same when I attended the last Schenker concert at the 2nd row, right in face of him. It's something special, he has that feeling, just incredible.
    BTW I bought this JCM800 2205 recently: with my 1981 Flying V plugged straight in, it's really close, I just don't have the hands !

    That's an amp I'd definitely love to own. Where did you get it?  They don't seem very common. 
  • They're all over the place. Try Reverb.
    https://reverb.com/marketplace?query=JCM800 2205
    I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
    -- David St. Hubbins.
  • eduardoritoseduardoritos Posts: 3,803
    edited November 2018
    That's my review for the gig on the same tour, last year.
    Similar thoughs and feelings.
    Mikey, the #guitar player ever.

    not a proper Concert Review.
    Last saturday I'd attended the MSG gig.
    Well, I would prefer with the singing only from Robin. He got the full voice, brilliant, wide range, is in shape, and full of energy.
    Gary isn't capable of any high pitched note. Graham had well sang, but only because he did only 3 tunes (well, at least, 3 good tunes).

    The band, with former classic members Ted McKenna and a supersized Chris Glenn (Ted, as always, seems not being the right drummer, but he's putting enough; missing Cozy). Chris well played, and good stage job.

    for what matters,
    Oh My God.

    No EVH, NO YJM, nobody can reach the level of playing and everything Michael did in front of my eyes (and ears).
    Melody, vibrato, flying licks, energy, interesting musical development of long solos... Everything that makes music.. musical.

    Playing "period correct", is notorious that the man has did a good job of learning his famous classic solos from ONAB. When the time for McAuley album, he started playing the new techniques he'd adopted then inspired for (at the time) modern players, with faster arpegios, and some impresive picking runs.
    Still, he got some new things.

    And, the tone. THAT TONE. The best guitar tone I listened to ever, and again, period correct. On UFO's tunes, less gainy, less compressed leads.

    And, even, the man was on good mood, funny, introducing band members and songs.
    There's some "elect the band set" and in some song it was notorious that some more rehearsal was needed, but I suposse they were the song elected by the internet's pool (but you can thing on that like "more interest" ).

    So, if you want invest some money on an only gig... put it on Michael, no doubt.

    Post edited by eduardoritos on
  • StitselStitsel Posts: 2,190
    Yep, Mad Mikey's on fire these days, & it really is something to behold. It's crazy how "in the zone" he still is, after all these years & all he's put himself thru as SRS mentions...... he's been shredding these licks for decades & he still looks like a 20 something virtuoso when he's in full flight.This is why, I never miss him when he comes around, & I second the motion that all Dinos shouldn't either.He's the real deal.
  • Duojett71Duojett71 Posts: 9,599
    I have a ticket to The Schenker Fest in Richmond, Virginia in May. I was bummed I missed this tour last year. Same lineup so I am pretty stoked for this show.
  • EugenicScumEugenicScum Posts: 5,323
    Love his playing now on the old stuff but his solos are very disappointing on the new recordings. No effort put in to compose melodies at all.
    Check out my band: Bevar Sea
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    edited January 2019
    That's an amp I'd definitely love to own. Where did you get it?  They don't seem very common. 
    Try these sites:
    2main.be (lots of Marshall in Belgium, they all bought them from when Sancho had a Malmsteen like stage gear ;) )

    The thing is, not so many people are willing to send an amp. So I sometimes, I send an empty box that fits a Marshall head.
    I use Mondial Relay for shipping (20EUR for an amp head), also in Belgium.
    I pay by bank transfer (no fees in Europe, no Paypal fee etc...) so people are willing to negotiate a bit.
    You can get one of those for less than 1000€.
    JCM900 can go as low as 400€ for a head
    DSL, TSL, JCM2000 around 750€-900€
    JMP from the late 70s, 80s around 1000€
    JCM800 (2203,2204 earlier single channel with vertical inputs are best), later models like this one (2205, 2210) are around 1000€. I saw a WHITE one for 650€ but it was already sold by the time I made the offer...
    Plexi, superbass,.... from early 1970s: 1500€-1800€
    Plexi, Major etc...from the 60's: 2500€ and more depending on condition.
    Avoid delusional people that will try to sell 2555 Silver Jubilee or Slash model from the 80's for 1800€.
    Also people that said the amp was checked by tech but chassis are still covered in dust.
    A new set of tubes for 100W  bought on TubeTown are like 100€ for JJ's which are good enough for most things.
    Look for the blue capacitor cans on top of the chassis (usually Daly are used in Marshall): marking is like YYWW
    where YY= year, WW= week so for example if marked "8148", cap was made on 48th week of 1981 and definitively need to be replaced...If you know how to solder, you can replace them yourself.
    You can also add a 1 Ohm resistor on one leg of the power tube socket that you can use to check and measure bias.
    So basically: a good soldering iron, clipper, plier, screw driver and a multimeter and that's all you need. Feel free to contact me for advice...

    Post edited by yngwie666 on
  • BaddstuffBaddstuff Posts: 1,305
    taken when I saw him a few years back at BB King's in New York.
    I actually made this into a t-shirt for myself

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