Monday, May 4, 2015

Michael Schenker / Temple Of Rock with Kirk Hammett - All Hail The Metal Gods! - Gig Review - Rockbar Theater, San José, California

Photo by Hidenori Saito

Michael Schenker / Temple Of Rock
Rockbar Theater
San José, California
May 3, 2015

Kirk Hammett finally got to play in front of a large audience with Michael Schenker and his colleagues in Temple Of Rock, and it was a historic rock 'n' roll moment.

When Kirk and Michael guested on Eddie Trunk's That Metal Show last month, Kirk said he wanted to come to the San José show, where he had just put on his FestEvil last month, and he stayed good to his word, coming out for two encores at the end of what had already been a brilliant evening.

I've been watching Michael Schenker very closely since about 1976, I've had the pleasure of standing on the stage many nights when I worked for the McAuley/Schenker Group in the early nineties, and I can honestly say that I have never heard him play better than he did last night. He's growing more comfortable with extemporaneous soloing and throwing in improvised fills throughout his vaunted catalog, and the capacity crowd at Rockbar had as good a night as the band.

The band was absolutely on fire at the end of a month long trek across the states, and they moved around like tigers on vaseline. Before this tour, singer Doogie White was getting some stick from the hardcore Schenker fans, but on this night he showed that he's become more comfortable and at home with the older material in the set, and he did history right as he followed in the footsteps of those who came before him while certainly leaving a huge impression of his own with the newer material that he's had a hand in crafting. "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" has become a new Schenker classic, and he led the band like a well seasoned field commander. He quieted all doubts last night, and put on a tremendous show.

Kirk Hammett and Francis Buchholz
The Scorpions brought their sting - Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell now sound completely at home, and it was great to see them again victorious in America. Wayne Findlay was his usual dependable self, and he tore off a great solo or two himself on the old Scorps' standouts.

I had seen the first show of this tour, and on that night it was clear that the band had no chance for rehearsal prior to getting a delayed start to this tour because of bureaucratic issues concerning work visas, but a month later this outfit looked like world beaters, and I've never seen the Rockbar more packed out. Even soundman Jake Disman was as intense as the band from behind the board, and the mix was absolutely fabulous.

That's me standing on the big carpet under the monitor!

I took a new tact for this show, one that had me wanting to hear the band better than necessarily seeing them closer (and my camera and phone stayed in my pocket). I found a perfect spot under a monitor about half way back in the room, and though I had a little less visually appealing spot, this was what I came to experience - the sounds being made. I was focusing on individual performances, guitar tones, vocals, drums, all very much in the spirit of my soul absorbing what other souls were onstage laying down, and no camera phone can duplicate that for me. It took me back to the first time I heard "Let It Roll' on UFO's Force It album back in the mid-seventies, and on through a long history lesson of the musical life of one of the greatest guitarists who has ever lived, Mr. Michael Schenker.

It was great to hear Michael and Doogie bring some new life to the Scorpions' chestnut "Holiday' as the first encore with a new bigger rock ending, but the real excitement came just after.

There was no real announcement, save for a comment about licensing laws in America, but then none was necessary when suddenly Temple Of Rock had a new member in the person of Kirk Hammett of Metallica. It was a goosebumps moment for me, as I knew exactly what that huge grin on Kirk's face was about. He was onstage tearing it up with one of his musical heroes and inspirations, and he could not have played it better. He played great rhythm, he let Michael take the lead, and when it was his turn to burn he took full advantage of the opportunity. Thank you, Kirk - well played, my friend.

This was one of those rock 'n' roll moments that everyone should get to experience - it was a thrill for the audience (there were a lot of Metallica shirts on display on this evening!), everyone onstage looked like happy children at Christmas, and the guest looked like he was having more fun than anyone in the room. When they tore into "Blackout", I don't know if I've ever seen anyone look more happy banging out those power chords. It was blissful, I'm very glad to have gotten the opportunity to see and be a part of this show, it was everything cool about this thing we love. Rock Ain't Near Dead, children....


Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Live and Let Live
Lights Out (UFO song)
Where the Wild Winds Blow
Victim of Illusion
(Michael Schenker Group song)
Armed and Ready
(Michael Schenker Group song)
(Scorpions song)
Coast to Coast
(Scorpions song)
Another Piece of Meat
(Scorpions song)
Vigilante Man
Let It Roll
(UFO song)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Lord of the Lost and Lonely
Rock You Like a Hurricane
(Scorpions song)
Rock Bottom
(UFO song)

Thanks to all who helped make this a great experience!

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