FEBRUARY 27th 2017

Michael Schenker-Michael Schenker Fest Live

In-Akustik/MVD 2017

Ruben Mosqueda

Die-hard Schenker fans have been anxiously awaiting the release of the ‘Michael Schenker Fest Live’ on Blu Ray. The performance was recorded live in Tokyo, Japan at The International Forum on August 24th, 2016. Schenker seems to issue a live Blu Ray and or album for each major tour that he does. This particular performance is a little more special as it’s part of ‘Michael Schenker Fest;’ with most not having the disposable income to hop a plane and jet to Tokyo for the show; this live Blu Ray is a treat.

Schenker has worked with some of the greatest frontmen in rock ‘n’ roll such as; Klaus Meine [Scorpions], Phil Mogg [UFO], and of course Gary Barden [M.S.G.], Graham Bonnet [M.S.G., Rainbow, Alcatrazz] and Robin McAuley [McAuley/Schenker Group]. All of the latter three are featured in this DVD. Joining Schenker are; original M.S.G. members Chris Glen on bass, Ted McKenna on drums and McAuley/Schenker Group’s Steve Mann on rhythm guitar and keyboards.It’s amazing how well Schenker is holding up since sobering up; his lean physique, tattered ‘skinny’ jeans, sleeveless denim jacket and beanie would look ridiculous on most men his age. The look has gone on to become just as much of  Schenker’s trademark as his Dean Flying V guitar. Time however; hasn’t been as forgiving to Glen, McKenna or Mann who look virtually unrecognizable from the glory days in this concert footage[and in HD, yikes!].

Gary Barden recorded a couple studio solid efforts with Schenker before he left [once again]. Having caught a pair of shows with Barden back on board he by appearances struggled vocally with the classic M.S.G. material; this performance is more or less the same. Barden looks fantastic, he still commands the stage, he has charisma with Schenker alongside him but the voice is shot. While not embarrassingly bad--- it’s simply not good. It fun watching him sing “Cry for the Nations” and “Armed and Ready” which takes me back to 1986; obviously not the year the album was issued but rather when I first discovered M.S.G.

Barden was followed by Graham Bonnet who for decades has been sporting the ‘Sonny Crockett’ look; it’s either timeless or Bonnet is just cool because he looks good in it. Bonnet’s tenure with M.S.G. was brief but  ‘Assault Attack’ remains one of the jewels on Schenker’s crown. Bonnet tore through renditions of “Dancer,” “Assault Attack,” and the stellar “Desert Song.”

Robin McAuley followed he was part of The McAuley/Schenker Group it’s safe to say this era was the tail end of Schenker’s critically acclaimed work is an understatement;  the haphazardly put together ‘Perfect Timing,’ ‘Save Yourself,’ and ‘McAuley Schenker Group’ records were a mixed bag at best. Don’t get me wrong there were a few great moments on a couple of those records and McAuley is a great vocalist but there just wasn’t enough there. The McAuley tracks included; “This Is My Heart,”  “Save Yourself” and  “Love Is Not A Game.” Not very moving stuff. The inclusion of the rarely performed “Gimmie You Love” would have been a nice change of pace.

With the lackluster McAuley/Schenker selections; McAuley was thrown a bone however with the UFO classics “Shoot, Shoot” and “Rock Bottom” before being joined onstage by Bonnet and Barden for “Doctor, Doctor.” All in all a solid Blu Ray with some cool soundcheck footage as bonus features. Needless to say this is a must have for any Schenker disciple