Overall Review by Batttttty
MSG U.K. shows in Bradford, Dudley & Camden
March 6, 8 & 10, 2004

Added on 03/12/2004

I waited till I'd seen the full run of UK gigs before I wrote a review, mainly for the reason that I tend to talk in superlatives and I didn't want to leave myself with nothing left to say (as if!).

So... here ya go.

I'm reviewing the three gigs, but on four different levels -
1. Michael Schenker himself
2. The Michael Schenker Group (the whole band)
3. The individual gigs
4. The fan reaction.

1. Michael Schenker himself, well.... what can I say. There were many of us who never thought we'd see the day when this amazing guitarist, whose music has meant so much to us through the years would be up there on stage, firing on all one-hundred-and-eighty, taking us to the same place where he himself goes when he's playing.

OK, so I'd read the reviews of the American and European gigs but until you actually see it for yourself you don't quite believe it. From the minute he walked onstage at Bradford and acknowledged the crowd, he was smiling and relaxed and we thought 'hey up, this feels good' - and it was good! Lots of special moments, intricate solos, passionate melodies, blazing fingerwork - and all carried out with good grace, and good rapport with the fans and the rest of the band. All the energy was positive energy. I can't talk about all the amps'n'valves and stuff - you know that - but I know I know he was back ON and it was wonderful - 'awesome' in the true sense of the word. And his interaction with the fans added a special dimension to his performance, because his warmth was radiated right back to him, and seemed to energise him even more.

2. MSG - The band. MSG goes against the normal pattern of bands - usually the singer is the frontman. The loyal 20-year-plus fan interest in MSG has always focussed on Michael's guitarwork. I know there are plenty of Schenker fans who judge an MSG album or gig purely on Michael's performance, and tend to push the band's contribution to one side. OK, well I suppose that's one way of judging it, but I don't think the contribution these other fellas make is any less important just because their name isn't over the door. It's a full stage of musicians - and I think those people who go just to watch and listen to Michael (watchable and listenable-to as he is!) are doing the rest of the band a bit of an injustice if they think it's only about Michael. Of course Michael is the leading character, but if there was no need, visually, for a full-stage band, Michael could just use a sound-card/backing track kind of thing. But no, these fellas are the G in MSG. Chris did a fine job at all the gigs, both on the UFO and MSG songs. To my ears he sounded stronger vocally at Dudley and Camden than at Bradford, but on the first night I was standing right in front of Michael's monitors, so didn't get to hear him properly. Wayne on keys and guitar is a bit of a dark horse, half-hidden behind the keyboards - but he contributes greatly to the band musically, and also visually too when he moves out and does a double-act with Rev. Pete the drummer is also a very worthy contributor to the team, and his drumming is rock solid right the way through. As for Rev, well, I hardly noticed him, he stands so still and looks so shy. Hah! The reason I have so many photos of Rev is cos in every single one I took of him he had some kind of action going on. Visually he's .. well..... he's just barmy. He never stops spinning - and it's such colourful spinning too! But he plays bass at the same time! You'd almost think he'd wandered into the wrong gig and got up on stage with the wrong band, but no, he's playing MSG and UFO stuff, and he's playing it pretty damn well. So yes, MSG is Michael, Chris, Pete, Wayne and Rev. A high five to all five!

3. The individual gigs. For me, (and I have to stress that this is only my opinion) the most exciting gig was Bradford, for the main reason that it was the first one of the three, and the frisson of excitement was slightly more at the 'newness' of it - my first encounter with the new-era MSG. Also, the sound balance seemed the best of the three gigs, even though I was standing in the wrong place most of the time to hear it in a balanced way. At Dudley I didn't even know there were sound problems until I heard the fans nearer the back shouting for the guitar to be turned up. I thought they were just being greedy! Anyway, it turned out they were still calling for it to be turned up even after it was got right - so yeh, they WERE greedy! At Dudley I heard Chris much better and was impressed with everyone's playing. Michael broke a string, but he improvised and proved (not that we we had any doubt) that he's still thinking creatively as he's playing. I still don't tknow which was technically the best gig - (me and that whole amp'n'valves thannngggg again) but this one also sounded good to me! At Camden again it all sounded fine to me, and I was moving around all over the place, but it turns out Michael had problems with the monitors, the same as before. He played beautifully though, and with the fire and passion and gentleness that takes your breath away. On and On was ..wow.... it could have gone on and on all night, for me! Also, it was great to see Tyson and Taro up there. Tyson has his own band, but this is the first time he's played onstage with Michael. And for Taro, it was the first time he'd ever played on stage publicly. Top fellas - baptism of fire or what! Oh Chris - I liked the arachnophobiaccy t-shirt you wore at Camden. Nice one!

4. The fans. They went wild! At Bradford the response was electrifying. The support and warmth that came from them was more than Michael would probably ever have hoped for. They were so welcoming, and so happy that he was back - and back well! The signing afterwards seemed to go on forever. At Dudley too. And at Camden I got bruises from the moshers - and complete strangers were kissing each other. That's true - it's not me being Battttttyish, it's really true. It's a bit of a phenomenon, and something I don't think Slipknot or Darkness fans do. Such is the emotion that Michael evokes, and probably more so because all his true fans know that it hasn't been at all easy for him to reach this pinnacle again.

And you know me, I stand and yakk with everyone, and the feedback I got at all three gigs was that this was what they'd all been waiting for - above and beyond expectations. God bless ya, fellas.

So yeh, all in all, it aint been a bad week!

Special Message from Batttttty
Added on 03/16/2004

After the latest round of European and UK gigs by the Michael Schenker Group, which followed only a few weeks after the USA leg of the tour, I want to pay tribute here to Ritchie for all the hard work he has put in, keeping his site freshly updated with news every day, sometimes two or three times a day (and in two languages!).

Some people don't realise or appreciate the amount of work that goes into running a website. For instance, for photos to be uploaded they may need to be scanned, and then resized, cropped, edited or whatever. It all takes time, and is done as a labour of love, and out of respect for the artiste and the music. An unofficial fansite is done for no financial gain - and it costs money too, both in webspace/data-transfer, and because the website work is often done during spare time when the person putting it all together could alternatively be doing paid work.

Ritchie loves the music of Michael Schenker and I know he does all this work willingly and without any thought of recompense or reward - but sometimes a small thank-you from the right quarter is worth a thousand dollars. Even when the thank-you comes from other webmasters - who are the only people who really know what it feels like to put in hours of voluntary work to help promote the music that they love so much - I know the appreciation is still a thing to be treasured.

Over the last few days I've had reason to evaluate why I spend so many (enjoyable) hours per day running my own website - and the encouragement I've received from Ritchie, other webmasters, and friends within our SITN/MS community has made me realise even more that we are providing a service that is appreciated by the fans. We work as a team, we share information, and we use it to promote the cause. There is a strong bond between Schenker fans - many of us have been there in the background for years, supporting the music and trying to make sense of the swings and roundabouts that have been the professional (and sometimes personal) life of Michael Schenker. We're still here all these years down the line because we care about the music and we care about the man. If anyone belittles our dedication, it's because they don't understand what Schenker fans are all about, and don't understand the bond between us which the Internet and sites like Ritchie's have built between us all. The true fans like Ritchie, Peter, Tom, Magnus and many other valued members of the SITN/MS community who dedicate a large portion of their lives to keeping the flame burning and the flag flying for the music we love, are going to continue working with the support from people who know what it feels like to be part of this community. Thanks, Ritchie, for doing what you do!

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