Michael Schenker: Bridge the Gap tour at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
The good-sized audience at the O2 was treated to some dirty rock and roll from support act, Western Sand. The band played music reminiscent of 90’s band Circus of Power. Fresh from supporting (Filthy) Phil Campbell of Motorhead, they gave a headbanging-inducing performance, with songs such as Black Water Resolution, from their current EP Cut You Down To Size. I’d like to hear more from these lads, the twin-Gibson attack the fast fretboard solos (popular with this crowd) and the small overworked drumkit with almost tribal rhythms, all hit the spot nicely.
Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock are out touring their new album: Bridge The Gap, with a set of shiny new songs to play. Older ones were revisited, however, the proggy sounding How Long and the instrumental From Coast To Coast gave Herr Schenker (UFO, Scorpions) an opportunity to display his guitar virtuosity. I particularly liked the ode to Ronny James Dio, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, which gave Doogie White an opportunity to show off his vocal range. I really took a shine to amiable Scotsman Doogie White, he is a great frontman, and along with everyone else in the band, really loved interacting with the audience, and kept that 4th wall permanently open.
Lord of the Lost and Lonely was one of my favourites of the evening: a rocking, drinking sea shanty. The audience (including me) enthusiastically joined in for the Scorpions anthem Rock You Like A Hurricane..such a simple chorus but somehow so good! The main set was finished with Rock Bottom, another chance for Schenker to really show what he can do with a guitar in a cataclysmic solo. The encore was Lights Out which sounded somewhat better sound-wise than earlier songs that suffered from an overuse of volume and reverb. This wasn’t the band’s fault and they played their hearts out. Every one of them a star, this band are not prepared to come along for the ride, Herman (The German) Rarebell on drums provided the perfect rhythmic scaffolding for the monster that is Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock. Multi-instrumentalist Wayne Findlay not only played a mean 7 string guitar but provided the essential keyboard support this rock needs. He also has very beautiful hair. The skills of bassist Francis Buchholz did not go unnoticed and he is every bit as active on the stage as he ever has been. This band still recognise the importance of the fans, and fully deserve the career longevity they have achieved. A great first night of the tour.
Words Stephen and Joanne Oliver, and photos by Joanne Oliver for Jowheretogo
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