23rd June 2001
By Supreme Power and Ruler
Uli was just damn well astounding, held the crowd all the way with his classical and his rock, spanning the genres on that beautiful guitar ........then.....on come our boyyyyyyyyyyysssssssssss, Phil lookin fit and gorgeous and amazingly like his picture on the mousemat....Pete looking like Pete, only with shorter hair and healthy, with red satin legs (a la mousemat) and a red and white spotted shirt, and Michael in baggy shorts and vest lookin much more in shape than he did a few months back.... and slap bang wallop they went into Midnight Train, which was great, and then Let It Roll, which for me was the best one of the set - it rocked and it rolled and everyone seemed really happy...and then Rawk Buddum which again was a credit to the fact that these fellas have SURVIVED. Then Michael and Uli served up In Search of Peace of Mind...and then we had a set from Uli and Jack Bruce which proved that Cream was about much more than just Eric Claptout. Then they announced that our lads were coming back on to do some more.........but.......they couldn't find them. Hmmmm.
So Uli improvised and again was magnificent....and then on they come again after a bit of a delay and went into Lights Out.....here was where the main balls-up came when Michael seemed to lose his way with this one, but Uli picked it up and kept it on track. And then came Doctor Doctor with the crowd singing along, just like the old days, and then they were gonna do a Hendrix jam but Donington operates a 11.30pm curfew so there was only 2 minutes left - so Uli treated us to an amazing finish, which lasted far longer than two minutes, accompanied by a sky that was showered with fireworks, and Carl had to come onstage to wake Uli out of his musical trance, (trying not to break the spell) so that he finished before a literal lights out.
The professionalism of Uli, the band, Barry Sparks, Don Airey, Clive Bunker and all the crew made it a great set. In the crowd there was a fair bit of anti-Schenker heckling before our lads came on, but (and Dave will confirm this) I turned around to one great hairy crowd of Hell's Angels and shouted to them to give him a chance (Supreme Power and Rulers don't take no greebo shite) - anyway, by the end of Let It Roll they were cheerin and clappin along with the rest. The evening proved that there IS life after Manchester.
OK, it wasn't the 'glory days' but they were a TEAM again. They looked happy and they did the business.
Uli said to Dave this morning (see the smooth way I just threw that bit in) that when he looked out at the biker crowd it felt very bizarre, the way they were all accepting and enjoying the classical parts of his set. Uli also told Dave that a large part of his set was improvised. We could see this from the interaction between Uli, Don, Clive and Barry - like a kind of tantric telepathy between them. Spoonful, with Jack Bruce, apparently went into some kind of overdrive when Jack forgot to stop singing, so Uli and the others carried on building the music around him - magical.
I nearly forgot to tell ya, we heard some of the new MSG cd earlier in the evening, and that Chris Logan fella aint bad at all. Oh yeh, and they also said they were recording last night's set for a new live album.
So, general consensus on the night was that we had a great team effort where they righted the wrongs of Manchester. Great to see them all alive and up there. You wanted them and you got them. And you got them enriched by a fantastic line-up of other musicians. What you didn't get was Me in the Wet T-Shirt competition but you can't have everything.
It aint 1978. And it never will be again. But taking Uli's set as a whole, (which is what I reviewed) we got our money's worth. The atmosphere on stage was good. It depends whether you are judging the show as a complete item, or analysing it as an audition for Schenker. As a complete item we were NOT let down. The power of Uli and his totally professional band more than made up for the cockups, which maybe 99% of the crowd wouldn't have noticed anyway - they wouldn't have been putting Schenker's performance under the microscope like what some of us do. The overall sound from the stage was stunning, and it was a great weekend - blimey, the weather was perfect, the air display, the fireworks at the end, and the great crowd too (not forgettin the people working there who were so helpful and friendly - not stroppy buggers like at some events you go to).