Overall impression - Good music, very tight.
This was instantly quelled by the appearance of the band at 11:05...I don't want to spoil it for you that will see the show, but for those of you that want to know, I'll try to cover the songs played at the end of this...
Andy Parker is absent from the tour...Simon Wright, former AC/DC, Dio drummer is sitting in for the duration . I was later told that Parker has a business (textiles?) in England that he just couldn't get away from.
The band sounded EXCELLENT. Phil Mogg sounded better than I've ever heard on any of the studio albums. The band all look older, but very healthy. Pete Way certainly was VERY animated... he covered the stage from one end to the other leaping around sweating on everyone! Michael played very well...he seemed to stick to the formula (he confirmed this to me later) of note-for note 1st lead break...just like the record, then improvisation on the "outro" as he called it, or second solo. He played pretty safe on the improv to several of the old tunes...then BURNED IT UP on several others toward the end of the show.
The old tunes were tight and very near flawless. Only a couple of songs had variations on the arrangement. Most were just the same as that on "Strangers in the Night".
They did play 2 songs from the new CD, and although not as tight or flawless, they Rocked! The crowd loved 'em.
Two encores and 1:10 later, the band was done. The venue was EXTREMELY hot...the band and crowd were thoroughly drenched with sweat. For those inclined, there was a "CD signing" after the show for those that bought UFO's new "Walk On Water" or Michael Schenker's solo CD "Thank You". The band sat in the lobby, and the crowd was filed through a line to shake hands and get autographs.
It was outside that I met up with Bella Piper the Manager and received two ALL ACCESS passes for the following nights show. I have helped Bella and Michael out in the past with his solo CD efforts and they felt I was entitled...This is gonna be COOL!
Once again the opening band was real good...I listened from backstage as I waited to say hi to Michael Schenker when he arrived. I saw the elevator open out of the corner of my eye and there he went. As the door closed, I waved at him and his face lit up as if he recognized me. 10 minutes later, Jamey the Stage Manager asked me to round up some cups for him...we then decended to the dressing rooms.
He shook my hand and told me how good it was to see me again (he did remember me!) and we made small talk for about 20 minutes as he warmed up. I'll skip the stuff you don't care about (him asking me things like "How's the wife? Kids yet? Etc...) and cover things of more probable interest.
When asked about the tour, he said the plan is to keep going until there is no place left to play! Now that all of their shows have been sold out, there is more interest in booking them.
When asked about his next project, he said that he thought it would be another UFO album "when the time is right."
I asked about the torn-up looking Flying V he was playing and he laughed and showed me where drumsticks had been spliced into the neck where it had been broken clear off.
We talked about the set and his "like the record" vs. "improvisation" solo philosophy. I keep the melodic memorable stuff he said, but no one wants to hear the record played to them, so I go off with whatever feels good to keep it exciting. (Not an exact quote). We are playing the same show every night. It is easier for everyone including the sound and light man.
It was time to dress for the show and Bella (manager) had not arrived with the "stageclothes" yet. "We'll have to improvise!" he told me. With me as his fashion-consultant(!), he cut the collar off of a UFO tour shirt and put it on. The guitar-tech arrived to take the warm-up guitar to the stage, and he offered to let Michael wear his new white shoes. I went to graze on the food as he changed into a pair of baggy shorts. He changed baseball caps (always back- wards) put on the shoes (2 sizes too big!) and we rode the elevator to stage level. "No one can see my feet anyway, right?" he asked.
The rest of the band came off the bus and gathered at the back of the stage. I went out front to see the show, but of course couldn't see from the back of the house. I returned to the stage and sat behind Michael's amps for the whole show. Every note was obvious to me! When he hit the "lead boost" switch on his 50 watt Marshall, the power tubes glowed orange...COOLness.
The crowd was ready for encore #3 but it was not to be. At 12:05 the show was over.
The best overall sound however (as always) is back by the soundman. If you can see from here, I recommend hanging out there.
There are cool tour posters and CD's for sale. Take some extra money with you to get the CD's here. They ARE NOT IN STORES!!!!
Also take along your old battered album (or whatever) to have the band autograph after the show. It is a "CD signing", so it is expected that you have purchased a CD.
Backup and warm up guitar was the war-torn black and white "V". He tunes the warmup guitar up half a step (E string is F) to make the strings feel "looser" when he gets onstage.
The acoustic he's playing is an all black Ovation roundbacked model.
Amps were 50 watt Marshall 800 series lead models. Only one was used and the upper 4X12 cabinets were not plugged in.
No wah pedal on this tour that I saw.
He was running the acoustic guitar through the 50 watt as well...a special box was in-between, switched on and off by the guitar tech.
He did use a footstomper chorus pedal and delay pedal on the floor.
For those of you wondering what a Michael Schenker warmup is like, I would describe it as BALLISTIC NOODLING. No scales or familiar riffs here just intense flurries of notes.
Also a Marshall amp here.
If you are like me and were too young to be going to concerts then, and have been listening to STANGERS IN THE NIGHT wishing you were born sooner, THIS is your chance to see it for real. Don't miss it.
Thank you to Michael and Bella for the good time, and to all the roadies who had to put up with me underfoot.
(not in order)
Everything else on 'STRANGERS except: I'm A Loser
Venus (new one)
Pushed to the Limit (new one)
Come on Everybody
Corvallis, Oregon USA