[Once again photographer Andrei Chlytchkov elbowed his way into the photo pit in order to get snaps of another show. This time it was metallurgist Michael Schenker at The Danforth Music Hall on May 6. Text by L. Benny Sanders. – AC]
The Danforth Music Hall did it’s best to contain the musical force of the Michael Schenker-Temple of Rock tour. It was a challenge to keep the roof on the building. Schenker was joined on stage by not one, but four veteran vocalists to augment his shredding. The result was a bethaus of anthems.
Before the concert, I spoke with famous Canadian Indigenous artist David Morrisseau who came in from Red Lake to see the concert, He loves Schenker’s music, a true fan. He told me that one of his father’s paintings can be seen behind Jack Nicholson in a key scene in The Shining. His friend Steve Mahabir (formerly of Groovy Religion) said the last time he saw Schenker at Massey Hall in the 70s was when he was with UFO and considers him to be one of the all-time guitar greats.
Schenker, one of the early members of the German rock band Scorpions (and younger brother of Rudolf), headed up UFO throughout the 70s and has rejoined both bands over the years to record and tour. One of his main musical loves has been The Michael Schenker Group (MSG), a mainstay for him for over 30 years. Schenker’ style is unmistakable. Nobody plays like Michael as he performs with his signature ‘Dean V’ through a quartet of Marshall amp stacks.
After yelling out “Keep rockin’ and God bless you” and opening with “Doctor, Doctor” Schenker introduced his accomplices. Chris Glen (bass), Steven Mann (keys/second guitar), and Bodo Schopf (drums), who joined due to the sudden passing of long-time MSG drummer Ted McKenna.
The two and a half hour set included performances by four vocalists, Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley, and Doogie White (ex of RAINBOW). Generally, each of them was front and centre but on a number of tunes, one or two would drift on-stage and provide back-ups and harmonies.
All in all, a great evening of masterful guitar work and memorable vocal moments, but a few stood out above the rest. Two of them were almost dead centre in the set. The first, “Warrior”, featured the voices of all four vocalists as well as that of Chris Glen. A song that begins very mellow and then thunders into a full 3/4-4/4 rock anthem. At one point Bonnet encouraged the crowd to join in a massive a cappella choral chorus.
Personally, my favourite parts of the show were when Robin McAuley was on-stage. During the second highlight, in a song written by Steve Mann, “Anytime” (from the 1989 album Save Yourself) as the audience clapped in time with the beat, McAuley’s voice was absolute perfection, powerful and clear. The tune featured the dual guitars of Schenker and Mann. A true focal point of the evening.
Other climaxes centred around Schenker and his solos, be they within vocal tunes or instrumentals, the man knows how to put on a show that rivets the fans. (Mahabir was right on the money). “Rock Bottom” was rock top.
Another stage spectacular occurred in the final moments of the concert. Bodo Schopf let loose on the kit and unhinged the final nail from the roof. A solo that was truly an event that showed that everyone on the stage was a star. Bravo, my percussive brother.
The evening closed with “Only You Can Rock Me” and “Too Hot”.
Local filmmaker Nick Stone was at the concert and remarked “It was lively and interactive with the audience. Schenker really connected with the fans. It’s the first concert of his I’ve been to and I would definitely go again”. I agree with Nick. Michael told me that loves playing to Toronto audiences. Best wishes on the rest of the tour and we hope to see you back soon.
PS: The above photo was taken by Schenker himself when he temporarily grabbed our man’s camera. Cool, huh?