C O L U M N S
MICHAEL SCHENKER'S TEMPLE OF ROCK
There is a sense of privilege watching a master at his craft.
This line-up is the best fit Schenker has yet found, with the songs and show to prove it.
It was unfortunate that the vocal sound mix was distorted, dislocated, and inconsistent throughout the night. Though the drums and bass were set to literally shake the breastplate off your ribcage, it was heartbreaking to hear White's beautiful pipes crudely filtered through a roll of paper towel that just got out of the dryer. His mic even gave out at one point, to which a few expert whacks, a twist, and a pop fixed that right up. But, yet, it still seemed he was straining to be heard. Even then, he worked the stage, the sound challenges, and the audience like a boss -- and he let you know it, too. While Michael enjoyed flirting, posing for the cameras, and embracing the audience full-body, heart, and Flying V, Doogie set his boundaries, wagging "no no" fingers and raising "daddy warning," eyebrows, which may be why it took him a bit to get the call-and-responses he was looking for. However, in the end, Vegas is Vegas, love is love, great rock is great rock, and as the night progressed, so did the evening in every way, even in performances. Energizer bunny's got nothing on these guys.
And nothing could have prepared the house for a real, jaw-dropping, surprise treat of Robin McAuley of the McAuley-Schenker Group taking the stage for a "Natural Thing!" If it wasn't for that scratchy, sunken sound system, his singing would've raised the roof. Again, a pro shows his prowess over the speakers and helmed the ship as if no time had been lost, and a good time was had by all. Positive vibes all round where there had already been in abundance.
Temple of Rock has just released their (technically) sophomore project; second with this line-up, third under the TOR banner, in the States on March 24. "Spirit on a Mission" contains a very strong library of songs that rivals its predecessor, "Bridge the Gap." Though "Where the Wild Winds Blow," "Live and Let Live," "Lord of the Lost and Lonely," -- which sounded vicious with the tempo boost! -- and "Vigilante Man," were lovingly performed, the remainder of the set list was reserved for the classics. "Lights Out, "Lovedrive," "Too Hot to Handle," , "Piece of Meat," "Rock You Like a Hurricane," (where Herman takes a break to take the mic for a few choruses), and "Holiday," to name a few. Though the revisit and revival of the band majority's history, as "We have three Scorpions up here!" Doogie warned, was tons of fun, it undermined the Temple's own pieces that would have interpreted extremely well onstage. "Gap's" "Dance for the Piper," "Rock-n-Roll Symphony," and "Horizons" -- the latter which they played to an enthusiastic crowd last year at LVSC -- and "Spirit's" "All Our Yesterdays," "Bulletproof," and "She's Got Something of the Night," would have undoubtedly blown the scalps off the audience if given the chance!
However, to be fair, the set list is like a buffet: no matter what you put out, it's not going to please everyone.
Then, of course, the highlight of the evening, the Axeman, himself. Schenker is one of the very few artists that can genuinely steal the breath away from his fans. Every note of every solo was received with fixation and awe. When the instrument becomes the voice and an extension of the player, the witness becomes part of the process. Schenker is an animator of sound. And when he took the last few precious minutes of the show for his grand finale, like fireworks, he pulled all the stops; manipulating every string, every peg, every muscle, every which, and every way through his signature, unorthodox techniques, and the thrill was beyond words. Throughout the entire night, he emanated divine light and competence. But, when all that power absorbed was finally expended and returned, he reminded everyone who he is.
There is still a ton of life left in him yet, but in that moment, that was where entertainment became privilege. It was humbling and magnificent to watch.
The Temple of Rock has the potential to stand very tall. And though it is built upon the illustrious stones of foundations past, it also deserves to have its own design and structure established from its own material. These are the guys who can do it and anybody would be crazy to miss this. Don't.
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