When you hear people walk out of a concert hall talking about possible concert of the year, you know you have been to a good one! This is exactly what was heard as the crowd exited the House of Blues inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino on March 27 after witnessing the spectacle known as MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST.
MICHAEL SCENKER, the legendary guitarist known for his work in the SCORPIONS, U.F.O, and the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, has made his way through Las Vegas before, but tonight was a little different. This was not your typical Schenker show, this was SCHENKER FEST. Michael would play an incredible 30 songs on the evening with no opening act, and what made this evening so different and so special was that Michael would be joined on different songs by three singers who each played with Michael in some variation of his MSG line-up.
The first singer to take the stage with Michael was Gary Barden, best known for his work with MSG on the “One Night at Budokan” release in 1981. Barden sang through several of his era MSG tunes including "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie", "Cry for the Nations", and "Messin' Around".
Following Gary on this night was legendary former MSG and RAINBOW vocalist Graham Bonnet, who gave a rousing performance of the MSG hit “Desert Song”, followed by "Dancer", and a little "Night Moods". Michael Schenker recently released a new studio album titled Resurrection in 2018 on Nuclear Blast records, and gave us the hit “Warrior” off the new CD for the first time live during this tour.
Although all of the vocalists were great, the one the Las Vegas crowd waited for and appreciated the most had to be Robin McAuley from McAuley-Schenker Group and Vegas' own Raiding the Rock Vault . Schenker typically would not play songs from the McAuley-Schenker days on his solo stops, as some would say he just couldn’t find the right vocalist to match the work Robin put into those songs. It has been roughly 30 years since Robin McAuley penned the power ballad “Anytime” (along with guitarist Steve Mann, who was also performing), and seeing Robin and Schenker on stage together for this classic was worth the price of admission alone. McAuley sang a number of McAuley-Schekner tunes including "Bad Boys", "Save Yourself" and "Love is Not a Game".
This show may have been a long one, with over two and a half hours of music, but the crowd was happy they stayed around until the end when Schenker broke out some of his best known hits from his days with U.F.O., including “Doctor, Doctor”, “Rock Bottom” and of course “Lights Out”, with the singers all rotating and backing up each other for the U.F.O. Finale. Schenker, McAuley, Bonnet and Barden, along with guitarist Steve Mann, Ted McKenna (Drums) and Chris Glenn (Bass) rounded out the live Schenker Fest lineup, along with additional vocals by Temple of Rock's Dougie White.
MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST felt more like a spectacle, as mentioned earlier, than just your typical concert. I think the rotation of so many wonderful vocalists, and the fact that so many wanted to see Schenker and McAuley reunite again after a long hiatus had a lot to do with that. Concert of the year is always a tough choice, it may only be March, but I think we have a contender!
Las Vegas Setlist for Schenker Fest
Into the Arena (MSG)
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ( MSG)
Cry for the Nations (MSG)
Attack of the Mad Axeman (MSG)
Messin' Around (MSG)
Armed and Ready (MSG)
Coast to Coast (Scorpions)
Desert Song (MSG)
Night Moods (MSG)
Searching for a Reason (MSG)
Assault Attack (MSG)
Captain Nemo (MSG)
Bad Boys (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
Save Yourself (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
Anytime (McAuley-Schenker Group song)
Heart and Soul (Michael Schenker Fest song)
Love Is Not a Game (McAuley-Schenker Group)
Searching for Freedom (Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock)
Live and Let Live (Temple of Rock)
Vigilante Man (Temple of Rock)
Lord of the Lost and Lonely (Temple Of Rock)
Take Me to the Church (Michael Schenker Fest)
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Temple of Rock)
Warrior (Michael Schenker Fest)
Rock Bottom (UFO song)
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
Shoot Shoot (UFO song)
Natural Thing (UFO song)
Lights Out (UFO song)
Michael Schenket Fest Slideshow photos: Harold Mountain / JustAFanPhotos