Michael Schenker Fest, The Grove Of Anaheim, March 25, 2018
The Michael Schenker Fest made its way to the North American continent at long last, unleashing a vibrantly memorable performance at The Grove Of Anaheim. A live retrospective on the brilliant career of the legendary guitarist featuring four of his lead vocalists from the past along with a tremendously rock solid band, Michael Schenker Fest is a rock and roll extravaganza for the ages – and certainly one of the most highly anticipated shows to hit the United States in years. Schenker and Company absolutely enraptured the crowd, bringing back the glorious memories of the past while unveiling a grand amount of new tunes from their recently issued Resurrection magnum opus – available now on Nuclear Blast Records.
After an exciting opening performance from the Southern California-based heavy metal collective Novareign, it was time for Michael Schenker Fest to commence – and when the star of the show took to the stage, a rapturous applause enveloped the entire auditorium. Opening with the instrumental refrains of Into The Arena from MSG’s Self-Titled album (1980), Schenker and his top notch band set the standard high early on with this stratospheric overture.
It was now time to introduce Gary Barden, the first vocalist from Michael Schenker’s triumphant career – and songs such as Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Cry For The Nations, and Armed And Ready sent the room spinning in nothing short of an epic way. Foolin’ Around from Resurrection was also introduced, and held its own exceedingly well up against the classics from the past. After the incredible Gary Barden appearance, Schenker and Company delighted the audience with a fiery rendition of the Scorpions classic Coast To Coast.
Graham Bonnet, perhaps the most infamous and intriguing of all the Michael Schenker co-conspirators, took the stage next – and absolutely enraptured the crowd with his powerful vocals and endearingly quirky stage presence. And what a treat it was to hear the ubiquitous Mr. Bonnet singing the exhilarating songs from Assault Attack, including Desert Song, Dancer, and Searching For A Reason. Nightmoods from Resurrection was also unleashed, once again showing just how essential the new material is.
And what could be said about the dynamic Robin McAuley – who was in fantastic form when it was time for the McAuley/Schenker era of the show. Opening with the rock arena Bad Boys selection, and proceeding on to classics such as Save Yourself and Anytime, the magic of the McAuley/ Schenker teaming was back in action, weaving its rapturous spell upon The Grove of Anaheim attendees. Heart And Soul from Resurrection brought it all into the present, and what a dazzling display of impassioned artistry all the way around with this brand new song!
For those not familiar with Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock project, it was now time for a raging crash course when final vocalist Doogie White made his way to the stage. White is a commanding presence, with songs such as Live And Let Live and Lord Of The Lost And Lonely reigning in a crowd who may have been hearing these wonderful selections for the first time. Take Me To The Church from Resurrection was another standout, with both White and Schenker delivering powerhouse performances.
There were several times throughout the set where the other singers would arrive on stage to provide backing vocals, supporting whoever was leading the song – an action would was humorously referred to as The Schenkettes. And now towards the end of the set, it was time for them all to be on equal standing, and Warriors from Resurrection showed each and every member of the Michael Schenker Fest in the midst of their finest hour. And what could possibly follow such a celebration in song but a collection of UFO favorites performed by these massively talented musicians? What a superb grand finale to be sure!
Michael Schenker is an absolutely mesmerizing guitarist, smiling and easy going while unleashing some of the most devilish axe solos known to mankind. In addition to Michael Schenker’s thunderously energetic performance, the blistering Fest lineup included Chris Glen on bass, Steve Man on guitar and keyboards and Ted McKenna on drums. Michael Schenker Fest was the show of lifetime, presenting the past, present, and future of one of the greatest guitarist on Earth and his absolutely amazing rock and roll comrades! If you are anywhere within striking distance of Michael Schenker Fest, do not miss this truly historic concert!
(Review by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
Michael Schenker Fest on Facebook