Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock
Vamp'd . Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
By: T. Ray Verteramo
Show Date: 4/7/2015
Michael Schenker. Photo Credit: © Paul "Rock" Santos
There is a sense of privilege watching a master at his craft.
We all know Michael Schenker. We all know where he's been, what he's done, and what he's
doing because generations of rock, blues, metal, and prog artists have been influenced
over and over by the legacy of where he's been and what he's done. But, it's quite a
different experience listening to the product of the genius and watching the genius at
work. He, along with Doogie White, Francis Bucholz, Herman Rarebell, and Wayne Findlay,
are a band of masters who, strangely enough, sacrificed some of their own Rock from their
Temple tonight in favor of shrines for The Scorpions and UFO.
Doors opened at 8:30 at the beloved goth and rock house on Sahara, Vamp'd, but the venue
filled most of its capacity shortly after 9ish. The well-skilled, but ill-led opener, Gundriver, lukewarmed the crowd with
lots of energy, tons of enthusiasm, and a whole lot of messy vocals and cues from the
"Pauly Shore gone hardcore" frontman. Insta-poop-n-lyrics like, "Ooh girl,
you're so fine / Yeah little girl gonna make you mine," may be (are) cringe-worthy,
but made for easy crowd-pleasing for those who weren't paying attention. However, in all
fairness, the rhythm section was impressive enough, with a young, strong drummer laying a
solid foundation and the splashy, flashy bass talents of Rev Jones, who, himself,
played with the headliner in MSG from 2000 '06 and then again from 09 - 2012.
About 10:33, the house fills to capacity. Hot breath on everyone's neck, sardine packed,
elbows to asses, squeezed up against the black box stage, intensified with the opening
chords of UFO's staple classic, "Doctor Doctor." In such an intimate setting,
the band's smiles and good spirits were instantly infectious, as if to say, "Thanks
for inviting us to the party! Since we're here, may as well
" They were all in
great shape, full of life, and seemed genuinely glad to be there, which anyone has to
admit, makes all the difference in the world. Doogie lost the Buddha in his belly and
Michael gained the Buddha in his soul. Francis held his ground in stance and sound, while
Wayne's 7-string wizardry tied the entire outfit together with triple-duties of keyboards,
rhythm guitar, and back-up vocals with a few leads of his own at the end. Herman, the big
2-year old banging on the pots and pans in the back, was having a particularly good time,
charming everyone in his line of sight; singing along, making faces, and just banging the
shit out of that kit. It was wondrous.
This line-up is the best fit Schenker has yet found, with the songs and show to prove it.
It was unfortunate that the vocal sound mix was distorted, dislocated, and inconsistent
throughout the night. Though the drums and bass were set to literally shake the
breastplate off your ribcage, it was heartbreaking to hear White's beautiful pipes crudely
filtered through a roll of paper towel that just got out of the dryer. His mic even gave
out at one point, to which a few expert whacks, a twist, and a pop fixed that right up.
But, yet, it still seemed he was straining to be heard. Even then, he worked the stage,
the sound challenges, and the audience like a boss -- and he let you know it, too. While
Michael enjoyed flirting, posing for the cameras, and embracing the audience full-body,
heart, and Flying V, Doogie set his boundaries, wagging "no no" fingers and
raising "daddy warning," eyebrows, which may be why it took him a bit to get the
call-and-responses he was looking for. However, in the end, Vegas is Vegas, love is love,
great rock is great rock, and as the night progressed, so did the evening in every way,
even in performances. Energizer bunny's got nothing on these guys.
And nothing could have prepared the house for a real, jaw-dropping, surprise treat of Robin McAuley of the McAuley-Schenker Group taking
the stage for a "Natural Thing!" If it wasn't for that scratchy, sunken sound
system, his singing would've raised the roof. Again, a pro shows his prowess over the
speakers and helmed the ship as if no time had been lost, and a good time was had by all.
Positive vibes all round where there had already been in abundance.
Temple of Rock
"The Temple of Rock has the potential to stand very tall.
And though it is built upon the illustrious stones of foundations past, it also deserves to have its own
design and structure established from its own material."
released their (technically) sophomore project; second with this line-up, third under the
TOR banner, in the States on March 24. "Spirit on a Mission" contains a very
strong library of songs that rivals its predecessor, "Bridge the Gap." Though
"Where the Wild Winds Blow," "Live and Let Live," "Lord of the
Lost and Lonely," -- which sounded vicious with the tempo boost! -- and
"Vigilante Man," were lovingly performed, the remainder of the set list was
reserved for the classics. "Lights Out, "Lovedrive," "Too Hot to Handle," , "Piece of Meat," "Rock You Like a Hurricane,"
(where Herman takes a break to take the mic for a few choruses), and "Holiday," to name a few. Though the revisit and revival of the band majority's history, as "We have three
Scorpions up here!" Doogie warned, was tons of fun, it undermined the Temple's own
pieces that would have interpreted extremely well onstage. "Gap's" "Dance for the Piper,"
"Rock-n-Roll Symphony," and "Horizons" -- the
latter which they played to an enthusiastic crowd last year at LVSC -- and
"Spirit's" "All Our Yesterdays," "Bulletproof," and
"She's Got Something of the Night," would have undoubtedly blown the scalps off
the audience if given the chance!
Being that Schenker has expressed interest for Temple to
develop into its own entity, without the support of his moniker, it was not disappointing,
but surprising that they didn't choose to promote their own compositions.
However, to be
fair, the set list is like a buffet: no matter what you put out, it's not going to please
Then, of course, the highlight of the evening, the Axeman, himself. Schenker is one of the
very few artists that can genuinely steal the breath away from his fans. Every note of
every solo was received with fixation and awe. When the instrument becomes the voice and
an extension of the player, the witness becomes part of the process. Schenker is an
animator of sound. And when he took the last few precious minutes of the show for his
grand finale, like fireworks, he pulled all the stops; manipulating every string, every
peg, every muscle, every which, and every way through his signature, unorthodox
techniques, and the thrill was beyond words. Throughout the entire night, he emanated
divine light and competence. But, when all that power absorbed was finally expended and
returned, he reminded everyone who he is.
There is still a ton of life left in him yet,
but in that moment, that was where entertainment became privilege. It was humbling and
magnificent to watch.
The Temple of Rock
potential to stand very tall. And though it is built upon the illustrious stones of
foundations past, it also deserves to have its own design and structure established from
its own material. These are the guys who can do it and anybody would be crazy to miss
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