Michael Schenker - LIVE: Shepherd's Bush Empire, London 2014

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Bridge The Gap Tour
December 20
Capacity 2000

Hosted by the Shepherd's Bush Empire, Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock finished the UK leg of their tour, with support from State Villains and Western Stand, to a standing ovation.

A small crowd had formed by the time State Villains, featuring Michael's son Tyson, nonchalantly strolled onto the stage and flew into their grunge-coloured set. It would be unfair to fault the support act, given that they didn't do anything wrong, though it would also be fair to say that they did little to jump out of the ordinary and leave a lasting impression.

Western Sand however, were quite the opposite in that respect. Although they primarily came across as another run of the mill hard rock outfit, they soon won over the audience with a charming mix of riffs and catchy song writing. Broken Bones was a definite standout, while it was also refreshing to hear harmonised guitar lines scattered throughout their numbers.

Over the years Michael Schenker has been no stranger to career-threatening personal issues, though going by his performance this night, it's as if those issues never existed. He glided over the frets with brilliant control and technical ability, with a tone that really sung out and dare it be said, played some of the best licks that have ever come from the German. In fact the band as whole were strong. Doogie White's vocals complemented the wide range of material in the setlist aptly and Wayne Findlay did an impressive job of covering backing vocals, guitars and keys simultaneously. Arguably one of the biggest assets to Temple of Rock is the rhythm section of Francis Buchholz and Herman 'The German' Rarebell, both former Scorpions band-mates of Schenker's. They made their performances look utterly effortless. Their presence was also the reason so many Scorpions songs like Rock You Like A Hurricane made it into the set, even though in that particular Michael had no part in the original, giving an indication that Temple of Rock is slightly more of a band effort than any other incarnation of the Michael Schenker Group.

The setlist also reflected this through the inclusion of Where The Wind Blows, Lord of The Lost And Lonely, and a new unreleased track in Vigilante Man. Disappointingly, Cry For The Nations was nowhere to be seen, which becomes increasingly frustrating when considering that the band finished twenty minutes before curfew, and therefore could have easily slid in a few extra numbers. Another complaint would be that for much of the set Findlay's guitar was so low in the mix it was almost impossible to hear, save for when he was boosted for the odd solo. Thankfully Schenker's sound was full enough to prevent the mix ever becoming uncomfortable, though at times some extra bulk would have been a welcome addition.

Controversy and Michael Schenker tend to go hand in hand at times, but the kind of show Temple of Rock performed gives a reminder that music is the only thing that really matters. It will be interesting to see how their upcoming release fairs, as judging by how genuinely good they sounded, it could be rather exciting.

“ brilliant control and technical ability ”

Setlist: Doctor Doctor / Where The Wild Winds Blow / Armed And Ready / Natural Thing / Victim of Illusion / Lovedrive / Coast To Coast / Before The Devil Knows You're Dead / Lord of The Lost And Lonely / Let It Roll / Shoot Shoot / Into The Arena / Vigilante Man / Too Hot To Handle / Rock You Like A Hurricane / Rock Bottom / Lights Out / Blackout

Written by James Abel
More: 2014, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock,

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