Michael Schenker Newcastle City Hall 29 October 2021

“Doctor doctor, please oh, the mess I’m in
She walked up to me and really stole my heart” (UFO, 1974)

shenker tixBear with me while I reminisce a little. I am in Sunderland Locarno in 1974. A band I have seen several times before, UFO, appear with a new guitarist. This guy is young, German, and with very long blonde hair playing a Gibson Flying V. His name is Michael Schenker and he is on the first steps of the ladder taking him towards legendary guitar hero status. He has left an up-and-coming German band The Scorpions to join UFO. He looks cool; just great. He comes with a bunch of new songs he has written with the band. One of them, “Doctor Doctor”, starts off with a quiet, swirling guitar introduction which soon builds up into a rocky song. This song becomes one of my favourites of all time and the signature tune for UFO, who go on to great success in the years to follow. I see them, and enjoy them, many times. They become one of my favourite bands of all time. Schenker is a guitar hero and also temperamental. In 1978 he walks out on UFO.

shenk 1I am in Newcastle City Hall in 1978. Schenker has rejoined The Scorpions for a short period, reuniting with his brother Rudolf Schenker. The City Hall is packed, surprisingly I thought as this band were still largely unknown in the UK, and they were sensational.

My relationship with, and admiration for, Michael Schenker continues over the years. I watch him perform in his own band MSG, at the City Hall, several times in the early 1980s and he is always great. He surrounds himself with top-class musicians including Chris Glen from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, drummer Cozy Powell and former UFO bandmate Paul Raymond, among many others. Schenker then rejoins UFO for a short time and sadly descends into a period of erratic performances fuelled by alcohol and drug addiction.

He then reappears with many different incarnations of the Michael Schenker group. My next encounter with him was many years later at the Sage Gateshead, when the man was on top form again.

Roll forward to 2021 and I am in the City Hall again with my carer Lisa (thanks for the photographs: some great images) about to witness another evening with the legend that is Michael Schenker. We arrive just in time to catch the last couple of numbers by shenk3support act Doro, former female lead singer with heavy rock band Warlock, with long blonde hair and resplendent in black leathers and chains, getting the crowd suitably warmed up with some great heavy rock including, showing her influences, a great version of Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law”! Class!

After a short break and a suitably cool pint of Carling (no Guinness on sale) we are treated to two hours of classic Schenker with the guitar wizard taking us through a tour of his back catalogue. Michael looks just great; fit, slender and wearing a great furry hat, playing his usual Gibson Flying V. After couple of unfamiliar, but great, opening songs we are right back to the past and the aforementioned “Doctor Doctor”. It really doesn’t get any better. The evening continues to rock onward with Schenker on brilliant form, played some excellent guitar histrionics.

Michael has assembled a great band of musicians including excellent front man vocalist Ronnie Romero, who recently fronted Ritchie Blackmore’s reformed Rainbow.

Lots and lots of great UFO songs follow: “Lights out”; I used to always love it when they sang “Lights out in Newcastle” instead of “Lights out in London” and this always got a great cheer from the home crowd. No such change of lyrics tonight but still a great shenk2song. Then “Rock Bottom”, “Shoot Shoot”, “Too Hot to Handle” and closing song “Only You Can Rock Me”. Fantastic. A great band, excellent UFO classic songs, and a wonderful performance by Michael Schenker on top form. It made an old man happy.

My taxi is waiting and takes me back home and Chris and Lisa set me back in the bed with strains of “Doctor Doctor” still ringing in my ears and around my head. A great night. Happy days and happy memories.

SETLIST: Ascension; Cry for the Nations; Doctor Doctor; Sleeping With the Lights On; Assault Attack; We Are the Voice; Looking for Love; Warrior; Into the Arena; In Search of the Peace of Mind; Red Sky; Lights Out; After the Rain; Armed and Ready; Sail the Darkness; Rock You to the Ground; Drilled to Kill; Rock Bottom; Shoot Shoot; Let It Roll; Natural Thing; Too Hot to Handle; Only You Can Rock Me

 

 

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by SICKS6SIX on November 4, 2021 at 10:16 am

    LOOKING AT YOUR TICKET FOR THE CITY HALL BRINGS BACK SO MANY MEMORIES FOR ME, AS YOU CAN IMAGINE MANY OF THE GROUPS AND SONGS I HEARD HAD A SPECIAL MEANING TO ME, IT WAS LIKE THE GROUP WAS PERFORMING JUST FOR ME, WHEN DEBBIE HARRY OF “BLONDIE” POINTED TO ME BACK IN 1977 AS SHE SANG ATOMIC (SHE WAS THE HOTTEST PROPERTY ON THE PLANET THAT YEAR) OR “IGGY POP” WINKING AT ME AS HE SANG NIGHT CLUBBING, SPECIAL NIGHTS, AND A VERY SPECIAL VENUE, I CAN SMELL THE WARM AIR IN THE FRONT HALLWAY ON A DARK WET WINTERS NIGHT AS I BUY MY POSTER AND T-SHIRT, THE WIDE STAIRCASE DOWN TO THE BAR WHERE YOU COULD HAVE A PINT WITH THE ROADIES AND SOMETIMES THE SUPPORT BAND, MAYBE THE BAND YOU CAME TO SEE MIGHT BE DOWN IN THE “CRIPT” AS WE CALLED, THEN THROUGH THE BIG WOODEN DOORS INTO THE AUDITORIUM, THE CARPET JUST VACUMMED, AND SEATS CLEANED READY FOR THAT NIGHTS ACT, SOME BANDS WOULD LEAVE FLIERS ON EVERY SEAT AS A SOUVENIER TO TAKE HOME AND PIN ON THE BEDROOM WALL,THEN THE LIGHTS GO DOWN AND THE BAND STARTS TO PLAY, THE CITY HALL HAS A MAGICAL FEELING ABOUT IT THAT I HAVENT NOTICED AT OTHER VENUES, THE PLACE WAS DESIGNED AND MADE FOR MUSIC AND NOTHING ELSE, THE MAYFAIR WAS ALSO GOOD, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS THE CITY HALL, THE MAYFAIR WAS A NIGHTCLUB WITH MUSIC AND HAD THE PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH ALL NIGHT CLUBS, WHEN I SAW “THE SPECIALS” THERE THE FIGHTING ON THE DANCE FLOOR ENDED UP ON THE STAGE AND THE BAND WALKED OFF, WHEN I PAID £1-75 FOR MY “EDDY & THE HOT RODS” TICKET I THOUGHT THIS GETTING EXSPENSIVE, I NOTICED YOUR Michael Schenker TICKET WAS A COMPLIMENTRY ONE HOW WOULD IT HAVE COST IF IT WASNT FREE ?
    “KEEP MUSIC LIVE” WAS ONE OF THE PIN BADGES I HAD IN THE 1970’s ALONG WITH R.A.R, BLACK-FLAG, EAT THE RICH, AND C.N.D. BUT GOING TO SEE A BAND IS NOW AN EXPENSIVE NIGHT OUT, A TICKET A FEW BEERS AND A SOUVENIR MUST COST ABOUT £50 NOW,
    P/S ITS STILL THE BEST NIGHT OUT WATCHING A BAND PLAY

    Reply

    • Posted by vintagerock on November 4, 2021 at 12:33 pm

      Yes the City Hall is a special place for me too. I have seen so many bands there and have so many happy memories. The price of tickets has gone up ridiculously. I remember seeing the Rolling Stones for 75p, Led Zeppelin for £1 and David Bowie for 50p! Now most bands are around £40-£50. Some are £100. But it is still worth it. There is nothing like live music. Best wishes Peter

      Reply

    • My ticket for YES in Nottingham next year has cost £50.
      No support band, and that’s before adding in any souvenirs and beers.
      Fifty quid.
      Then another £47.50 to see Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, same venue, same circumstances.

      After shelling out for two tickets all in one fell swoop my wallet needed to lie down in a darkened room for a few hours afterwards, I can tell you!

      Roger

      Reply

      • Posted by vintagerock on November 4, 2021 at 1:45 pm

        Hi Roger I have tickets to see both acts at Newcastle City Hall next year. So I feel your pain! By the way I get a complimentary ticket for my carer; one perk of being disabled and in my wheelchair. However often the carer has never heard of the band; but they usually enjoy them! Some good shows to come. Happy days Peter

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