Michael Schenker @Newcastle City Hall, October 29 2021
Twenty-three songs. More than two hours.
And Michael Schenker at his spellbinding best.
For a while it looked like the former Scorpions/UFO axe slinger’s latest trip to Tyneside would be remembered as an incident-free tour-de-force.
No repeat of that infamous backstage City Hall spat with Quireboys’ frontman Spike.
No murky mix leading to the dismissal of an errant sound man (remember the O2 Academy in 2014?).
And no awkward on-stage issues with the latest singer to flank the famously spiky German.
Schenker and Newcastle have become synonymous with confrontation and crisis as much as classic rock masterclasses over the years.
But this sensational show looked set to be celebrated for all the right reasons as the man himself accelerated through a flawless, career-spanning set.
Schenker Fans Treated To Some Light Entertainment
Counting down to the final two songs of the night, Schenker looked confident, relaxed and ready to deliver a rousing climax.
A stirring rendition of Natural Thing gave way to Too Hot To Handle…and for the unfortunate chap manning the balcony spotlight that proved to be the case.
According to Schenker — who made his feelings quite clear on the subject — there was a point when the focus should have been firmly on Steve Mann, rather than the main man.
But there was no sign of a spotlight on the former Lionheart/MSG guitarist/keyboardist as he ripped through a rare solo.
And Schenker was visibly furious as he questioned whether the bloke on the balcony had fallen asleep…or perhaps taken an early night off.
Still, it wouldn’t be a Schenker show in Newcastle without a hint of controversy.
Thanks to the calming influence of the peerless Ronnie Romero, normal service was resumed in time for a soaring send-off courtesy of Only You Can Rock Me.
And on top form, only Schenker can.
Chile Reception For The Schenker Faithful
Schenker, of course, goes through singers (or sound men and lighting guys) like Watford go through managers.
But in Romero he’s fortunate to have found the perfect foil at just the right time.
It’s little wonder the charismatic Chilean is the go-to guy for a generation of classic rock heroes looking to pay due homage to the glory years.
Ritchie Blackmore called up Romero to front his phenomenally successful Rainbow reunion shows in 2015.
Adrian Vandenberg pinpointed the honey-tongued South American as the voice for the first Vandenberg album in 35 years.
And Romero was the natural choice to replace Joe Lynn Turner on Sunstorm’s Afterlife album, released earlier this year.
In tandem with Schenker it became clear that the 39-year-old throwback to hard rock’s 80s heyday fully deserves his red hot reputation.
Romero was content to play second fiddle to his new employer and yet he did the job that was asked of him — seamlessly reinterpreting half a century of culturally significant genre standards.
Schenker went early with the anthemic Doctor Doctor and yet introducing the UFO favourite three songs in set the perfect tone for a sublime show.
Looking For Love allowed Romero to rise to the occasion in spectacular fashion and Rock You To The Ground did what it says on the tin.
Drilled To Kill The Atmosphere
There was the odd misstep.
Drilled To Kill, from Schenker’s latest MSG opus Immortal, simply didn’t cut it set against such an imposing back catalogue.
And Rock Bottom’s meandering solo could have been cut in two as a rare show of self-indulgence threatened to blow the momentum of an otherwise fast, furious and focused show.
But this 50th anniversary celebration was more about the many breathtaking highs than the odd cumbersome low.
And surely Schenker has rarely looked happier during half a century in the spotlight…
Warlock Up Your Sons
Of course, it never left the familiar frame of eye-catching opener Doro as Schenker’s fellow Teutonic powerhouse warmed up the masses in style.
The former Warlock frontwoman simply loves her craft.
And the Metal Queen still reigns supreme over a generation besotted by those flowing blonde locks and fist-pumping denim-and-leather clad anthems.
Celebrating almost 35 years of Warlock’s career-defining Triumph And Agony, Doro roared her way through All We Are and I Rule The Ruins.
But it was a belting rendition of Priest’s Breaking The Law that allowed the ageless singer to let rip.
A pre-Halloween version of Burning The Witches set the seal on a superb supporting set as Doro went all in for metal…one more time.