Michael Shenker Group – Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH, January 21st, 2014
Review by James Pappaconstantine
I’ve been a Michael Shenker fan from his early career, from his work with UFO, Scorpions, and into his solo career, so I was happy to cover the show at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH, and finally get to see a live show.
Getting there early, I was excited to see, MSG singer, Doogie White. Doogie has sung with Michael on and off as well as singing with Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, and Tank. Getting to chat with him briefly, I asked about the venue as it seemed small, and he remarked that the sound was great. That was a great sign, and in fact, everybody associated with the venue and Michael’s tour were extremely nice.
Michael went on just after 8:00 p.m. and opened the show with solo work, MSG material, spanning 34 years and 13 studio and 8 live releases, after which he played a couple Scorpions songs before returning for a couple more MSG tunes. He finished up the evening with 7 UFO songs. I heard one patron on his way out the door say, “That was like three shows in one!” and I couldn’t agree more.
Michael Shenker is a god among guitar enthusiasts. His tone and unique way of playing scales is all his own. Though never making the big time in The States, Michael is huge in Europe and Asia. I’m not sure why that is, maybe it was that the American record promoters didn’t hear in him what his true fans did or maybe they were too busy pushing the latest trend down our throats, but whatever the reason, I’m glad I caught on early and was able to finally catch him live.
In my experience, there are two kinds of guitar players out there – the cats who play a different solo every night and the guys who pretty much stick to the solo that was recorded. I think Michael is more of the later, giving his listener’s exactly what they paid for, and as mentioned above, his tone was incredible. It’s not the amp, it’s not the guitars, it’s the way Michael plays, it’s the growl he gets from holding the pick close to the strings, slightly muting each string with the tip of his finger.
Doogie was correct when he said the room sounded great. It wasn’t muddy or too loud, it was just perfect. The back wall of the stage was covered in studio foam, allowing good angles for optimal acoustics. Stage lighting was great, although I would have liked to see a little more front lighting or a follow spot as much of the time Michael’s face was in shadows or dimly lit.
The show was incredible as a matter of fact, and I would even guess that it was the best club show I have seen in the past 25 years, and if you know me, that’s a lot of club shows. I hope that MSG are able to jump on some of these big festivals like The Monster’s of Rock Cruise or the M3 Festival soon.
Doogie mentioned that they will be back on the East Coast in the fall with Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz of Scorpions joining them on drums and bass. Francis and Herman just toured with them in Europe. If you get the chance to catch their show, do yourself a favor and get tickets early as they are selling out venue after venue.
The Michael Shenker Group are:
Michael Schenker: Guitar
Doogie White: Vocals
Wayne Findlay: Guitar / Keyboards
Rev Jones: Bass
Pete Holmes: Drums
E-Tone ~ Neptune Rising ~ Where the Wild Wilds Blow ~ Armed and Ready ~ Cry for the Nations ~ Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ~ Assault Attack ~ Attack of the Mad Axe Man ~ Rock my Nights ~ Into the Arena ~ Love Drive ~ Another Piece of Meat ~ Devil Knows You’re Dead ~ Horizons ~ Shoot Shoot ~ Only You Can Rock Me ~ Let it Roll ~ Too Hot To Handle ~ Lights Out ~ Rock Bottom ~ Doctor Doctor