The recent announcement of a Spice Girls reunion has been hitting the headlines and causing quite a storm, but a special reunion in the rock world may be enough to rival that.
Following the release of their first album, Resurrection, Michael Schenker Fest headed to Newcastle’s O2 Academy for a night of music and nostalgia for a lot of fans in the audience. Talented German guitarist, Michael Schenker, was backed up by classic Michael Schenker Group members, Ted Mckenna (drums), Chris Glen (bass) and Steve Mann (guitar). Completing the legendary line-up were former Michael Schenker Group singers, Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley as well as Doogie White of Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock.
As if 4 singers just wasn’t enough for the main man, Schenker opened the show with an acoustic rendition of the Scorpions hit, ‘Holiday’, performing both the role of guitarist and vocalist. Following the shock of Barden, Bonnet, and McAuley’s united arrival so early on for the second song of the set, the crowd may have certainly been in need of a ‘Doctor, Doctor’.
With Doogie White on stage for the first of the sets, kicking off with ‘Lord of the Lost and Lonely’ and ‘Take Me to the Church’ from the new album, Resurrection which lead into ‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead’ gave an almost spiritual feel, with the audience being a willing congregation, listening to Schenker deliver his sermon of infectious riffs whilst preacher Doogie White’s powerful vocals converted even the biggest of cynics into Michael Schenker Fest’s biggest fans.
Passing on the microphone like a baton in an Olympic relay race, White handed over the vocal responsibilities to Graham Bonnet whose performance can be said to be deserving of Olympic gold. Dressed in a statement shirt and tie, Bonnet meant business as he powered through ‘Dancer’, ‘Searching for a Reason’ and ‘Desert Song’. At this stage, it was clear to say that the ‘Night moods’ in the venue were nothing but positive as fans got to experience an Assault Attack of classic songs and classic singers.
Showing no signs of slowing down, the Newcastle crowd were certainly still ‘Ready to Rock’ as Gary Barden took to the stage. Joined by Robin McAuley for ‘Attack of the Mad Axeman’, it was clear that all of the musicians in the star-studded line-up were going to ‘Rock my Night’, a feeling I’m sure all in attendance shared. Barden was definitely not ‘Messin’ Around’ as he rounded off his set with MSG`s classic, ‘Armed and Ready’, showing that the onslaught of hard rock hits was going to continue into the night.
All four singers united for Michael Schenker Fest’s song, ‘Warrior’; it could be said that the quadruple threat resembled a boy band more so than a warrior as they lined up, centre stage, to share the vocal responsibilities. McAuley provided a strong counterargument to this claim with his performance of McAuley Schenker Group’s, ‘Bad Boys’.
United once more to close the show, it was clear to the fans that everyone had left their ‘Heart and Soul’ on stage that night. The line-up proved that they were ‘Too Hot to Handle’ and showed no signs of ever hitting ‘Rock Bottom’. I think it is fair to say that when it was time for ‘Lights Out’, everyone left impressed with the performance but wanting more, willing the show to never end.
Words & Photos: Rebecca Burgess
Event Date: 09-Nov-2018