Concert Report by Stephen S. MSG at Cheese & Grain, Frome, UK August 1, 2007 Added on 08/02/2007
Just a quick note on the Frome, Somerset, UK show, will try to write a full review
The last time I saw MSG was in the early 80's
The venue was about half full (300 out of 600)
The two support acts (The Operation and Rattlesnake Remedy) were very good and warmed the small crowd up
MSG took to the small stage at about 10:45. From the start, it was clear that Michael was not firing on all four cylinders. Fans started leaving from about the third song (and by the time the first encore, I would guess there was less than 200 fans still there). Michael did seem to 'wake-up' during 'Into the Arena' , 'Attack of the Mad Axeman' and 'Armed and Ready'
A disappointing show from what hopefully will be remembered as one of the best guitarists. I hope he gets better soon
Concert Report by Owen MSG at Cheese & Grain, Frome, UK August 1, 2007 Added on 08/02/2007
Same old story last night in Frome, I'm afraid. I must admit I'm getting really worried about Michael. I'm not even angry, just sad, and really sad for Tyson in particular. The band came on at about 11, and played until 12.15 or so. Michael was very low in the mix again, so we could hardly hear him. What we did hear was very poor. The intro to Dr Dr was played on the keyboards because Michael was just not up to it. The rest of the band did very well, but seem to be getting a bit annoyed with Michael now. I've waited many years to see MSG, and then saw them 2 times in 3 nights. Unfortunately, this is not what I dreamed of seeing. He is one of my favourite guitarists, but he should not be on the road. I hope someone will help him, because the next time I see MSG, I want to leave talking about Michael the Genius, not about how awful the show was.
Concert Report by Matt C. MSG at Cheese & Grain, Frome, UK August 1, 2007 Added on 08/02/2007
The Cheese and Grain, being a smaller venue, allows a great view of the action. We were stood literally 3 feet away from the band. They came on about 10.30pm to a warm reception from the 3 or 4 hundred strong crowd, with Schenker sporting a hoody and fedora style hat. The band were all smiles, and looked happy to be headlining.
First, having been at the Hammersmith gig on Monday, I must say that there was a noticeable improvement in Michael. It would be very easy for me to just dismiss the man based on that performance, but it is clear that he is a fragile individual who is obviously subject to some serious torment. In Hammersmith it looked as if he was shackled, and was unsuccessfully fighting to release himself. Last night was a definite improvement from that. Although unsteady on his feet, Schenker was smiling and the initial signs were promising. The track list was roughly (as I recall)
Ready to Rock
Let it Roll
Dust to Dust
Into the Arena
Armed and Ready
Attack of the Mad Axeman
The first 6 tracks or so were executed fairly well, with minimal fuss. Schenker's riffing was good and certainly offered hope for the rest of the set. However, from here things started to unravel slightly. Lights Out, whilst unrecognisably better than the Hammersmith episode, was far from the momentous shred-epic it should be, and Wayne and the rhythm section did very well to hold it together. Into the Arena was, to be honest, not a high point of the set, but then things seemed to pick up again from there.
After the pneumatic opening riff to Armed and Ready, again there were snatches of the Michael we know and admire. Let's not forget this is the same man who we have all taken so much pleasure from over the years. He needs our encouragement and support and not immediate castigation. Into Attack of the Mad Axeman and, again, the omens appeared favourable as there was some great, humorous moments of interaction between Jari and Michael.
Of course, throughout the gig the band was brilliant. They deserve a really big mention. Jari has a distinctive, powerful voice and handled the crowd with considerable charm. Wayne was a top man as usual (Schenker is really lucky to have Mr Findlay on board), and the rhythm section were as tight as you could want. All of them were watching out for Michael and not only showed a fantastic professionalism, but also a caring environment for Schenker to try and purge whatever demons he is currently battling. Tyson Schenker was also very prominent in the wings, assisting his Father with his equipment and generally keeping a watchful eye on proceedings.
Arachnophobiac and Doctor Doctor really got the crowd going for the encore, but I do wonder if they should have stopped there. Of course, everyone wanted to see a blistering Rock Bottom (as we have witnessed time and again in the past), but I don't think even Michael would admit he was firing on enough cylinders to get through it. His soloing was not the sign of a well man. Still, if Manchester and Hammersmith were the low points, let's hope that MSG can now continue on the up and blow the rest of the UK away.
The band stayed briefly to shake hands with the crowd and give away plectrums and small memorabilia. In spite of all the clear difficulties they are experiencing both on and off set, due to their warmth and dedication, it was impossible not to love them.
Concert Report by Neil MSG at Cheese & Grain, Frome, UK August 1, 2007 Added on 08/02/2007
Just a short note to comment upon last night's gig at Frome.
Got to venue at around 7.00pm half expecting it to be cancelled but within 5 minutes or so saw Michael and Wayne walking to the gig across the car park from the direction of the town. They walked right by my car and Michael was obviously pretty much worse for wear. After about an hour both him and Wayne left again back towards the town with Michael happy to wave and have his picture taken but his appearance and body language didn't bode well as he seemed very out of it. Gig seemed to get off late and after the two supports MSG didn't arrive on stage until 10.45pm. After the improvements in the last couple of tours things have obviously declined badly again as minimal stage, no backdrop, no merchandise. As for the gig, Michael now seemed even more unsteady on his feet than earlier and shuffled around making uncharacteristic faces and gestures. I've seen Michael enough to know his stage persona and sadly he was a shadow of the person I've seen before. Frankly I felt embarrassed for him and could not wait for the gig to finish. Like a man who is the only one not to get the joke Michael seemed entirely oblivious to his state or the feeling amongst his fans. An obviously worried and caring Tyson was his guitar tech and shadowed him all night trying to look after him but it was a sad and upsetting sight. I won't go into all the warts and all aspect as the whole situation that I see Michael in now is upsetting enough without dissecting it even more. It seems the earlier gigs were worse but for a man of his ability and reputation this was awful. Whatever the cause of his stupor - drink, drugs or combo it was heartbreaking to see him now reduced to 'performing' like this. The band were awesome trying to keep it together and Wayne was particularly outstanding covering as much as he could - a true professional and vastly underrated. Hopefully somewhere there are people close enough to Michael to save him from himself - if he wants to be saved. Phil Lynott & Steve Clark are sadly lamented because of similar issues. I hope Michael is helped before he becomes another victim. So sad.
Concert Report by Robert Knowles MSG at Cheese & Grain, Frome, UK August 1, 2007 Added on 08/03/2007
Hi again Ritchie
Please find below my observations/review of the Frome gig:-
As with the London concert, I was left with several contradictory feelings and observations, as follows:
(1) Michael aside, the band played fantastically in a difficult situation. Being on the front row, Jari was practically leaning right over me singing at one point. During the drum solo in Into the Arena, the drummer actually got up from behind the drum kit, and was drumming on the stage and even on people's shoulder's, including mine. Having my body used as part of the drum kit was a first for me, and this kind of thing is a very good idea since it involves the audience. The bass player also put in a sterling performance. It was difficult for me to hear Wayne as I was in front of Michael's monitor, but I have heard good things. At the end, the whole band were very friendly and were almost thanking the crowd for being so generous given the circumstances. The Frome, London, and Peterborough crowds were all very kind to Michael.
(2) Michael's playing was better than London, though a long way from his best. The set list was:
Assault Attack Ready to Rock Let it Roll Dust to Dust Love Trade Shadow Lady Lights Out Into the Arena Armed and Ready Attack of the Mad Axeman Arachnophobiac Doctor Doctor Rock Bottom.
Broadly speaking, Michael's playing began to disintegrate from Lights Out and Into the Arena onwards. He was generally able to play the riffs, and generally unable to play the solos. Most of the time, he attempted to play the right parts of the tracks in the right place, though got lost a few times. Towards the end, his playing was a complete shambles, and he seemed barely able to fret the right places on the fret-board. Rock Bottom was a disaster area.
(3) Despite these farely depressing negatives about Michael's playing, I was glad to see a little more genuine avant garde experimentation going on in the first few numbers. My hopes that Michael was trying to break out of the fixed forms that he has been forced to play for so long were beginning to be realised. Yes, there was drunken impairment of ability going on. But there was also some very special guitar-moments for me that were more than this - they were Hendrix-like attempts to deliberately deconstruct the track with shards of abstraction and deliberate manipulation of distortion effects. Even if me and Matthew C. were looking at each other with despair later in the set, there were moments in the early parts of the set when we actually said to each other, 'Yes! He's back!' Of course, it soon disintegrated, but there were some beautiful guitar-noises early on, and some trademark Messerschmitt riffing of the sort only Michael can do.
(4) As to Michael's condition, then Michael was much less disorientated than in London, and was even very happy throughout the set and joking around with the other band-members. However, it was the kind of joking around that happens when there is only one person in on the joke and the others kind of laugh along nervously. Whilst I think the real Michael Schenker is the gentleman I met at Peterborough, drunkenness transforms the personality in unpredictable and contradictory ways. I came away from the gig disappointed to say the least.
(5) Again, though, I think that the godly response to this is not to attack or despise Michael, but rather to be the Good Samaritan. Unfortunately, Michael's condition doesn't just bring out the worst in him. It brings out the worst in his fans. It is easy for us to treat Michael as a consumer commodity that we cast aside when it doesn't meet our self-centred desires for epic musical moments. But our frustration with Michael may sometimes actually reflect a blocked wish to use him for our own ends, rather than a righteous outrage at poor performances. That is, we all too easily portray ourselves as the victims, ironically committing the very sin of 'playing the victim' that some accuse Michael of. This situation exposes whether we love Michael the man, or only want to use him for his music. Tyson's obvious attitude of grave but caring concern is the only option open to us morally.