G3 - UK Leg - Alans Review


Before I advance an overview of MSG on the G3 tour, I would like to highlight a few points that I feel warrant attention. Firstly, I've heard and read a lot of nonsense regarding whose the 'best' guitarist on the tour. Personally, I find this type of 'debate' tedious. However, what is clear is, Joe Satriani, Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker are exceptional players, but when I see, or hear, Michael Schenker play, it makes me feel good. It excites me, because the man is mass of contradictions and (for me) this is relayed through his playing. He is, as far as I'm concerned, something of an enigma, yet a true musical genius. That is not to say that I don't recognise his failings. After all, he is human, which leaves him open to criticism like the rest of us.

I say this after spending much of the past few months around him. The G3 tour did nothing to alter my opinion of Michael. In fact, being in close proximity to the man and having the pleasure of speaking to him on a daily basis was exhilarating. As on the UFO 'Walk on Water' tour, I found him courteous and receptive to conversation. Paradoxically, for some, Michael's behaviour in Japan on the UFO tour, left people feeling bemused and angry. However, Michael has always taken the time to make me feel welcome and his attitude towards my son (Marc) my partner (Michelle) has been consistently exemplary. This positive attitude allowed us unrestricted access to Michael on the UFO and G3 tour's. I write this, because I feel it is important for the reader to understand that what I write is not only a review, it is based on my experiences of being around Michael. I speak as I find. Thus, I will be advancing you information that directly reflects my experiences on the G3 tour, dealing specifically with MSG. Additionally, I will relay my thoughts regarding the end of show 'jam'. I make no apologies for the fact that I will be concentrating on MSG. After all, Dave Wood' 'UFO and Michael Schenker' Web-Site is, I feel, specifically designed to accommodate such information.

Firstly, my thoughts regarding Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham are documented elsewhere on Ritchie Blackmore Arakai's site, so I'll skip those gigs. However, I will say, for me, the Birmingham gig was the one when Gary and Michael 'clicked'. In addition to this, Michael played excellently in the jam. He was barely audible the previous three nights, but at Birmingham he was up in the mix. Along with this, MSG were awesome that night. At the first three gigs, there were problems with the running order. On each night the show ran over time, but at Birmingham the tour 'slipped' into a groove. Sadly, the turnout at Birmingham was poor. Only 4,000 tickets were sold. The capacity is 12,000. Still, I awaited the Wembley gig with great anticipation.

Wembley Arena-London-Capacity 10,000

Yet again, MSG opened with 'In Search of Peace of Mind' and Michael looked relaxed. After a blistering rendition of 'Assault Attack' David (Van Landing) announced 'Another Piece of Meat' and we were subsequently hammered into submission. This onslaught continued, with Michael in amazing form. His playing on this tour, up to this point, has been flawless. Personally, I've never seen him play as well. When David introduced Gary Barden there was a raucous cheer. Michael hit the opening notes of 'Lost Horizons' and Gary 'ripped' into the song. They followed this with 'Attack of the Mad Axeman' where the vocals and the outro (lead break) were spellbinding. As ever, the acoustic set, which consisted of 'Bijou Pleasurette' and 'Positive Forward', was beautiful and highlighted the exceptional talents of the band. Unquestionably, this is the finest incarnation of MSG that Michael has ever showcased for his fans. 'Armed and Ready' finished the set, with David and Gary screaming their lungs out. Fantastic! Brian May joined G3 for the jam and it was excellent. Again though, Michael was very low in the mix. In contrast to the performance, the turnout at Wembley was disappointing. I was informed by the box office that only 3,000 tickets had been sold. In truth, the arena was barely a third full. However, it was still a great gig.

Croydon Fairfield Halls-Capacity 2,000-Sold Out

Michael was incredible tonight. It has become very clear over the past week that he is extremely relaxed. It is impossible to describe the complete contrast between his playing on this tour and the UFO tour. With a capacity turnout going nuts, MSG turned in another exceptional performance. Shane Gaalaas is undoubtedly one of the finest drummers in the world (god bless COZY) Jeff Kollman is a truly gifted musician. An excellent bass guitarist, but an even better lead guitarist. Seth Bernstein, keyboards and guitar, is also an accomplished and talented musician, providing the perfect foil for Michael. David Van Landing has a vocal range that defies logic. This man should be singing for 'Iron Maiden', he would be perfect for them. More than this, they are all (I kid you not) truly courteous, welcoming and polite people. There was not an ego in sight. The jam was brilliant tonight. Michael still did his own thing, but Satch and Uli, for me, are starting to probe his space more. Not too much, but it was noticeable. There's no doubt that Michael has been low in the mix and tonight this was evident again.

Cardiff International Arena-Capacity 5,000-Attendance-approximately 4,000

The last night of the UK tour. This was a sad night for me. Over the past few months I have watched Michael numerous times and tonight I have a feeling that I may never see him live in the UK again Up to the UFO tour, it took him a long time to come back to the UK to play live. How long will it be before he returns to the UK? Michael was repeatedly asked this question at the signing sessions, but he couldn't assure the fans if, or when, he would come back. No matter, it was another fantastic performance. Tonight, he played like a man possessed. No words can describe him when he's in this form. I can honestly say that at every single gig on this tour, without exception, his playing has 'buried' anything that he did on the UFO tour. I was in the pit for the duration of MSG's set, thus, I had a close-up view of everything that he was doing.

His playing tonight was perfection personified. Truly wonderful. Gary also thought it would be his final gig with the band and he turned in a brilliant performance, as did the rest of the band. It's been great seeing Michael and Gary together again, long may it continue. Every night when Gary has been announced, he's had a tremendous reception. However, when he leaves the stage, the audience are on their feet cheering. Purely because Gary has sang so well, after tonights show, he was asked by Michael to do the European leg of the tour. It seems that Michael is happy to be working with his old cohort again.

As for the jam. As ever, Satch and Uli were great, but Michael really got into a groove tonight. Whilst David (Van Landing) and Michael were rocking, Satch ran across and touched Michael on his shoulder. Michael turned round, looked at Uli, then at Joe and started laughing. I haven't got a clue what was going on, but they all laughed and continued to play. This was a truly light-hearted moment for all concerned, subsequently, the final UK show finished on a positive note.

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