ufoIt’s time to welcome back Self Made Man and this week our resident classic rock blogger is pinning his hopes on a Michael Schenker masterclass.

Every week the voice of North East rock offers up his views of the rock and metal scene.

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I’m a little bit worried about Friday’s Michael Schenker gig at the O2 Academy in Newcastle.

For the pressure’s really on Michael for this one.

You see, I’m heading to the concert with expectations. Huge ones. In fact, I’m anticipating a truly memorable show with the guitarist performing at his mesmerising best.

Am I being realistic?

Well no, if I take all the previous occasions I’ve seen him live as examples. But an emphatic yes, if his performance the last time he appeared at the same venue in December 2011 is the standard bearer.

Schenker is a guitar genius. Or a tortured genius. A mad genius. Take your pick.

He was shambolic during his latter days with UFO and his guest appearance on The Scorpions’ Live At Waken DVD almost made me cry.

But that was then. Now we have a new Michael Schenker. A clean-living Schenker. A focussed Schenker and most significantly, a Schenker who delivers outstanding shows night in, night out.

Last year’s Temple of Rock DVD provided proof that the axeman has rediscovered the soaring heights of yesteryear and reports from his recent US tour confirm that attending a Schenker concert is no longer akin to buying a lottery ticket.

I know several mates, who decided against seeing him in the flesh last time he was in town because they’d convinced themselves he could not longer perform at the level they first remembered him by.

I only got into UFO when Strangers In The Night was released in 1978 and therefore did not see him perform with that band until they reformed in the nineties.

But I did see him with MSG at Manchester Apollo on their first-ever tour in 1980 and they were magnificent.

That first MSG album was and still is a classic of the hard rock genre and MSG II wasn’t too bad either.

But subsequent releases were never quite as good and with the man himself changing line-ups faster than Blackburn Rovers change managers, my interest waned.

Back with UFO, he seemed to be back on track when I saw him at the City Hall in 1998 and 12 months later, he was still in groove.

That reunion, however, was destined to combust, culminating in him walking off stage drunk at Manchester two years later.

When I saw his cameo on that Scorpions DVD, I was convinced he was finished as a frontline performer but happily I’ve been proved wrong.

A supremely talented musician like the German should be selling out Arenas, never mind, still having to advertise tickets for a venue a fraction of that size and the fact he’s not recognised worldwide as one of the greatest guitarists of his generation is very much his own fault.

But I won’t worry too much about that later this week. I kept the faith, I lost it and now I’ve regained it.

Don’t you dare disappoint me, Michael.

Ian Murtagh