Concert Report by Johnny Michael Schenker at House of Blues Anaheim, CA, U.S.A. (NAMM Guitar Gods Concert) January 17, 2009 Added on 01/18/2009
First I would like to tell you I've been a fan of your website for about 5 years, and a fan of Michael Schenker since 1974. I have seen Michael about 30 or 40 times, the first time opening for Foghat in Chicago in April 1975. I was also backstage on Friday October 13th 1978 when Strangers In The Night was recorded.
I just got back in from seeing Michael at the "Guitar Gods" show after NAMM at House Of Blues in Anaheim California. I haven't seen Michael in about 2 or 3 years since he's been having so much trouble coming to the States but heeeeeeeeeee's back and better than ever!! One of the great things about Michael is that every time he's ever melted down, his rebound is that much greater. This time is no different. As a matter of fact, I think he is probably done drinking for good! He has lost the bad extra weight he had been carrying and looks fantastic. He's smiling the whole time, and his playing is as incredible as usual.
Tonight opened with :
Armed and Ready
Only You Can Rock Me
On and On
Lovedrive (with Kottak on drums)
Doctor Doctor (with Vinnie Moore playing the leads)
Rock Bottom (with Warren DeMartini sharing and trading leads)
and after a short break where about half the crowd had left, thinking the show was over...
Goin' Down (with Leslie West)
Never In My Life (also with Leslie)
They had that place goin' NUTS! I may have forgotten a song or two, but it was so great to see Michael, and to see him back 100% healthy and happy made it that much better!
Gotta get some sleep. It's 1:30 in the morning here, but I had to share with you since you've been so kind to share with all of us for so long!
Thanks a lot and keep up the great work.
Hi again Ritchie,
I forgot to mention how great Robin McCauley was great singing for Michael last night! He was FANTASTIC! Sang Lovedrive as good as Klaus could, and did the UFO songs excellent also. He really should stick with Michael because he can hit notes that I know Gary just can't do anymore. He really plays the " Rock Star" thing too.
Also one final note. Rev Jones played bass on the two songs with Leslie West, and he also is so phenomenal a musician and showman. Swingin' his knot on the top of his head like a lunatic, strutting the stage and never missing a beat. He smiled a lot also and seemed to be absolutely fine with Michael and vice versa. I had heard there was a little bad blood after Michael collapsed last year, but they seem to have resolved their differences. Again, I think Michael is just in a very happy healthy place where he just doesn't have the time to waste being angry or pissed off with people whether it was his fault or theirs. I think the guy just wants to play Rock N Roll and be happy. And that's really good for all of us! His fans!
Again, keep up the great work. For all of us hardcore Michael Schenker/ MSG/ UFO/Scorpions fans, you are the best!
Concert Report by James Michael Schenker at House of Blues Anaheim, CA, U.S.A. (NAMM Guitar Gods Concert) January 17, 2009 Added on 01/19/2009
I just wanted to let you know, - The "BLOND BOMBER" is back. It has been a while since Michael has been to the states and the wait was worth it. I have seen him play many times, but never so focused and right "on". He definitely deserved to headline the "Guitar of the Gods". This man deserves a lot of recognition. Watching the past meltdowns, personally, was tuff to see, but the man is human. He seemed so at ease letting others join in. He even allowed current "Gun Sling-er" of UFO, Vinnie Moore, play during "Doctor, Doctor". When Michael was performing, he brought back styles from each decade (i.e. 70's, 80's, 90's, and 2000 retro). He was improvising while keeping key signature licks, riffs, arpeggios, tricks, 70's style sweep picking, and melody intact. I even noticed a point where he slid his guitar on the mic stand for effect, which I have never seen him do before. Speaking of melody, Michael was playing very melodic and emotional. He captured the whole "Essence" of the songs that were played.
"Armed and Ready" was the first song. The band came out "Firing" and I thought it was 1980 as Michael just formed the band. Stylistically, Michael seemed to capture remnants of his 1980's nascent look. The solo was flawless and he added a few tastefully chosen improvised embellishments.
"Lights Out" was great to see and since I have not had the time to listen to old songs recently, it was fresh with, again, small improvisational portions that blended well within the song format. Robin McCauley was a great choice and performed superbly on all songs.
"Only You Can Rock Me" What can I say? This is an all time classic!!! Michael added a small improvised portion during the bring down portion before the solo. It was very tastefully done without any flash or pretentious inc-lings.
"Lovedrive" Only true Schenker fans, like yourself Ritchie, would know that he was credited for this song. Again, a flawless rendition with Robin on vocals doing an excellent job.
"On and On" Like the song title, Schenker is playing On and On with precise execution. Robin is still doing a fine job and interacting with the audience, but my eyes keep going over to Schenker to see his signature riffs and hooks. The sound is great and I can not even hear the channel switching during the clean parts of the song. Wayne is excellent on the keys and I am amazed at his growth. The drummer is doing a great job, but I did not catch his name. Schenker is looking back and interacting with 70's stage moves.
Oh My G.., "Into the Arena" was soo on that the whole place was glued to his performance. Michael started the song with a little excerpt from "Lost Horizons". Even though Lost Horizons is great performance wise, I am glad he did not go into that because the mood was so upbeat. His improvisation included doubling riff sections if that can seem possible? I know I was not imagining it because I do not drink. I do not think Schenker does either. (Note: I remember reading way back that Randy Rhoads never even took drugs for the dentist because he was afraid of what it would do to his playing) I am an "Old Time" 70's rock fan and I know of all the Guitar heroes out there. Let me tell you, drinking has ruined a lot of them. If you have ever heard a person that has been drinking slur their speech, you can imagine what it does to vibrato. Mr. Schenker's vibrato was superb. His bends and vibrato were perfect at this point of the concert. The only flaw in the song was when the "sit in" bass player could not pull off the bass solo section. Michael came in and started duplicating and doubling over the bass player's lines rescuing the song. Michael is a true consummate professional. The bass player did a good job considering he may not have known all the material. Hey - wouldn't it be great to see Barry Sparks, Shane Galaas, Wayne, Robin, and Michael all together? or maybe even Paul Raymond on keys? I am torn between Paul and Wayne. Wayne has become such a great addition to this band. He seems to help Michael with directing other members of the band.
"Doctor Doctor" Who is that behind the curtain slapping on his guitar? Vinnie Moore came in on this song and added a fullness to it. He has been playing with UFO for some time now and is rock solid. I have to admit, I prefer not hearing all those fantastic technically difficult sweep arpeggios in this song because it just does not seem to fit. I think Schenker was very gracious and they hugged before and after the song. Vinnie seemed a little bored with the song and probably thinks he is a little better than Schenker. I detected a Little contentious feeling when he walked on stage. I know Schenker has had some issues in the past, but people should let him be and not expect him to act that way again. Step back and wait to see how he reacts not judging him for past performance and behavior and expecting the same. Have you ever seen the DVD of UFO with Vinnie in the studio? His version of "Try Me" is great, but not Schenker. A musician is like
an actor at times. - Can you ever see anyone doing one of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns? Schenker has a vibrato that is so recognizable that it is his voice! Don't get me wrong - I love Vinnie too....I feel that there is a little bias on Vinnie's part because he has to be loyal to Phil Mogg and probably heard a lot of late night drunk party complaints.
"Rock Bottom" OK!!! This is staple Schenker. His first and most poignant claim to fame and deserving of "Hall of Fame" treatment. Michael was joined by Warren D'Martini during this song. Warren filled in the modal jazz rhythmic groove section behind the solo playing a Gibson ES 175. I think he should have used an ES 335 because he would have had more control of the feedback. That seemed to be his intent, because he used it in the solo section when Michael allowed him to take some solos. He was able to control the feedback with his volume knob, but I got that funny feeling in my chest when he started using the feedback (i.e. when you think the guitar is going to explode from the feedback...lol). I almost thought that Warren was hired by Gibson and gave him that Guitar for exposure, but Warren used a Fender strat style guitar during his set. Anyway, Schenker's solo was again amazing and improvised at times. He nailed all the trick muting and string
techniques while playing at lightning fast speeds.
Just when you think it is over! After many calls for an encore, many people are starting to leave. Knowing that Michael signs things after shows, I started to slowly leave and make my way downstairs. I went through the restaurant and heard a guitar. Wow!!! Leslie West with Schenker in a Beatles shirt. What a great treat. I thought that I was going to hear some "Endless Jam". It was great!!! Leslie was constantly chatting with Michael. Michael was really enjoying himself taking a lesser role at times playing rhythm. You can hear the influence of Leslie when you see Schenker side by side with Leslie. Leslie is no slouch when it comes to Guitar and he had an awesome bend and vibrato. You can see and sense a mutual admiration between the two virtuosos. Another familiar bass player was in the background twirling his Mohawk pony tail. What a showman! They did two songs and I waited around for a little while not to get fooled again. The music
playing on the house speakers was Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies. Oh my!!! I almost caught myself singing "I Love the D...". I am 46 now and can not see myself being a necromancer.
This show was awesome and well worth the price of $29. The whole night had a 70's type feel, but was more a stylistic composite of the 70's, 80's, 90's, and beyond. I know from experience that Schenker always bounces back and better than before. I have been following him since I was 14 and I have to say I am biased towards his playing style. Uli, Vinnie, Joe, Malmsteen, and countless others are great in their own right, but this man keeps putting out riff after riff, solo after solo, hook after hook, and very memorable melodies. He has withheld his composure for 80 percent of his career and that is much better than most can say. His catalog is humongous and maybe the most prolific in terms of "Guitar Gods". He has never pretentiously displayed his technical ability forfeiting that to others. His choices have always been what the song needs. His experience is starting to show and I think that Michael has come to a place that he has accepted his
accomplishments of the past and still manages to come up with something new. I read on another website that Schenker is a Mercedes, BMW, and Porsche all wrapped into one. As he gets more comfortable with who he is and finally matures, I think that he will be a formidable presence much the same as Les Paul who is able to this day, to play difficult songs of the past. He could be the greatest guitarist of our generation, but he has, with "Humbleness" and sometimes fearfully declined that position. I have to selfishly say, I like that because I have witnessed him up close for many many years now.