Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A - An Instant Classic

This is without a doubt my favorite Schenker outing in decades. Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall A is going to be very tough to beat as the best live DVD in 2017. It's early in the year, but this is what you call an instant classic, and for all the right reasons.

Michael Schenker has been building on his legend for years now, having left behind the days of a tougher struggle, and now he has finally to my mind once again surrounded himself with a stage full of musicians who are truly up to his game. He's never had a bad band, but that's not the point by a longshot, the point is that this band better suits his songs, his playing, and his temprament at this stage of his life. He plays the gig of a lifetime here, a performance as strong as any he has ever put on, but the beauty is that there is an amazing amount of proper attention to be paid to the whole band, and the whole experience.

The Michael Schenker Fest is a great idea that finds Schenker reunited with the three lead singers who loom largest in his solo history. Gary Barden is from the first iteration of the Michael Schenker Group, and here he seems to be experiencing a return to form that we've been waiting on for many years. He's eased into a lower toned vocal approach, and his husky phrasing and easy stage presence are just as effective as his halcyon era with the band in the early '80s. Next in line is Graham Bonnet, a man who left an indelible mark on Schenker fans with just one album, Assault Attack, in 1982, a record that is still the favorite of many a Schenker fanatic. We waited over three decades to see Graham and Michael smiling at one another onstage, and it was worth the wait. Rounding out the lineup of singers is McAuley/Schenker Group frontman Robin McAuley, who brings his unique set of melodies and still blazing vocal chops to the proceedings, giving the audience yet another flavor of the Schenker legacy.