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.
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.