The prestige Sage Gateshead on the banks of the River Tyne is more accustomed to visiting sinfonias as opposed to touring hard rock bands.
The venue’s pristine acoustics make it a real treat to play for anyone who graces its stage. Turn back the clock to just over 12 months ago and Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock opened their Bridge The Gap UK tour in Newcastle at the O2 Academy. There were technical difficulties with the sound that night, no surprises why the Sage Gateshead was chosen for their most recent visit to the North East. A complete sellout, even the seats behind the stage were occupied, although few of the fans sat down in favour of playing air guitar on the balcony in some cases.
The Temple of Rock takes the stage with all guns blazing, Michael Schenker brandishing his trusty Dean Flying V as they launch into the UFO hit “Doctor Doctor.” The band steamed their way through a well-balanced set of new material and old. From their studio albums, they played the likes of “Live And Let Live” and “Vigilante Man.” They also played classics from Schenker’s extensive back catalog including “Lights Out,” “Love Drive” by The Scorpions, and “Victim of Illusion” by MSG.
“It’s been a shit start to the year hasn’t it?” remarks Doogie White before dedicating “Before The Devil Knows Your Dead” to the late Lemmy Kilmister and Dio’s Jimmy Bain. “Rock Bottom” sees Schenker deliver a display of guitar mastery with an epic solo, before the ex-Scorpions rhythm section of drummer Herman Rarebell and bassist Francis Buchholz, take the limelight for a crowd-pleasing rendition of “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”
Temple of Rock is tight; the band’s energy doesn’t subside once throughout the show. With their sophomore album, Spirit on a Mission, under their belt, it seems as though they are starting to stand on their own merit. The show was most certainly a close up, personal affair with fans pressed against the stage right in front of their heroes. Schenker frequently took the time to high-five fans as he struts along the front of the stage.
This concert is Michael Schenker back at the top of his game and having a lot of fun in the process. The Temple of Rock has exorcised the demons of their last visit to the region by unleashing a sonic assault on the Geordie crowd which rocked the Sage Gateshead to it’s very foundations.