Live at The Shepherds Bush Empire, London

‘Doctor, Doctor’ is certainly a song guaranteed to get the party started and kicking off with it tonight is a masterstroke for Michael Schenker. As with the other shows on the lengthy Bridge The Gap tour, tonight’s set brings together some of the best tracks from UFO, MSG, Scorpions (Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz are still with the band) and more recent Temple Of Rock material.

It’s great to see Michael Schenker blast out the riffs to ‘Natural Thing’, ‘Too Hot To Handle’, ‘Shoot Shoot’ and ‘Let It Roll’ exactly how they should be played, and the likes of ‘Armed and Ready’, ‘Victim Of Illusion’ and ‘Into the Arena’ illustrate that some of the MSG material has stood the test of time well, in fact a few more MSG numbers would be most welcome for me. The Scorpions material is well represented with ‘Lovedrive’, ‘Coast To Coast’ and ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ all featuring in the main set. Let’s not forget the new material though, with ‘Where The Wild Winds Blow’, ‘Before The Devil Knows Your Dead’ and especially ‘Lord Of The Lost And Lonely’ all impressing, and ‘Vigilante Man’ giving us an extremely promising glimpse of the next album, due out around March next year.

Still, it’s that sublime moment where Schenker performs the solo in set closer ‘Rock Bottom’ that remains the highlight, and shows that these days Michael is displaying all the guitar skills that made him a legend. Doogie White, I have to say, also plays a blinder tonight. Despite this being the last night of quite an extensive tour, his voice is in perfect fettle, and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever seen him sing better. It’s not easy to cover songs made famous by the voices of Phil Mogg, Klaus Meine and Gary Barden, but he does a great and ever improving job of incorporating their songs into his own style. The encore sees the band knock out a superb version of my very favourite UFO song, ‘Lights Out’, which they’ve got to play in London right?

That would have been a perfect way to close the show, but the final encore is in fact the Scorpions’ ‘Blackout’. If I’m honest, I could have done without that as Michael Schenker was never on that track anyway, and as much as I love the Scorpions, I not sure if, just because Buchholz and Rarebell are in the band, they may just be overdoing it with the Scorpions material now. Still, this was a great show to wrap up 2014 for me, and even better than the Hard Rock Hell appearance last month. As I mentioned, a new album is due in March – Schenker doesn’t hang about much these days! So thankfully it won’t be too long ‘till we’re doing this all over again.

Review by Jim Rowland

Boring bit… ©All images copyright me. All rights reserved. Use without permission will result in me being a bit miffed. If you do use a photo it would be really nice to get a Rockrpix credit somewhere if you can… you're probably musicians, you understand all this stuff.

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