JANUARY 17TH, 2014
BY: Gina Planell
I was surprised to see the wood still adhering to the walls of Austin’s Saloon in Libertyville, IL, Saturday night, January 17th. There was some serious face melting going on…
Hessler started the evening with Lariyah Daniels, metal siren on vocals, beginning the furor and coursed through a high-voltage set. The packed crowd came into the metal arena voluntarily for this one. DSG – featuring former Manowar member, David Lee Shankle on guitar whetted the musical pallets valiantly of the packed-to- capacity house in anticipation for Michael Schenker and his Temple of Rock. DSG vocalist, Warren Halvarson, was right on the money and cashed a check with those preeminent vocals! Gabriel Anthony was a mighty, golden force on drums!
Opening for Michael Schenker and the Temple of Rock was a young, Hollywood, CA band, Gundriver. They were up for the task, as they had obviously been before, getting the crowd hyped up for the main act. They will be opening for the band until February. They were more like a garage- metal rock band with flavored, metal lashings and tons of cool riffs by Tom Potter and the vocal tenacity of Scott Siegel. A distinct AC/DC, Black Sabbath influenced collaboration, in my opinion. Completing the sound was thunder drummer, Alex Rivas.
Michael Schenker and the Temple of Rock took the stage quickly and professionally. Everyone’s eyes were riveted on him immediately as if hypnotized by the metal giant. It was clear that he was going to enjoy the experience. Changing his traditional (now Dean) Flying V guitar several times from multi-colored to a gorgeous grey, metal to his now famous white/black design, even a Strangers in the Night UFO version. Each guitar was clearly a work of art and gorgeous. We were watching a master paint his metal canvas for his audience; a virtual impressionist. I was pleased to hear a few of the new songs he and Doogie White (ex-Rainbow singer) put together from the ‘Bridge the Gap’ release which hit the shelves January 7th. Doogie’s voice was familiar and contributed to the wonder of this organization. Wayne Findlay (former MSG member) played a very mean, seven string guitar while adding keys and bass player Wes Jones was eclectic, wild and a vibrant part of this collaboration. Pete Holmes brought it all together with drummer wizardry and blazing action.
Towards the end of their set the Temple of Rock led by Schenker brought the crowd back in time with mega hits, MSG’s: “Attack of the Mad Axeman”, UFO’s: “Let It Roll”- (my personal fav), “Doctor, Doctor”, “Lights Out”, “Rock Bottom”, “Only You Can Rock Me”, “Too Hot To Handle”, Scorpions favorites: “Love Drive”, and “Another Piece of Meat” emanated through those familiar Marshall stacks like lightning bolts into the crowd. Each time he transitioned into the next tune, people were being hit with serious doses of energetic nostalgia and feeling the stirred emotions of each song. Michael revealed his passion for guitar bending the strings creating different intonations with complete control, ease and finesse. At times, he even sang background, smiling and enjoying each song as if playing it for the first time. He interacted with the crowd consistently. It was so very obvious to me why this man remains an enigma in the metal/hard rock music industry. His message is timeless, his music is truly everlasting.
Michael will return to larger venues in the Fall completing the Temple of Rock with ex-Scorpions members- drummer, Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz on bass, along with Wayne Findlay and Doogie White, front man, once again. The reason for playing these smaller (sold out) venues was to assure Schenker’s hard core fans that the master is indeed BACK, better than ever with vocalist, co-writer Doogie White on the block; as he stated in my phone interview. I can see how excited he is about this ‘family’. He has reason to be. With the upcoming completed lineup built for the major arenas, I’m sure this will be a significant concert event not to be missed. I can’t imagine this show getting any better…