Michael Schenker Fest Brings German Rock to KC


Rock is no stranger to having siblings in the industry. Brothers Eddie and Alex. Sisters Ann and Nancy. And of course, Michael and Rudolf. Though these two did not spend a great deal of time together in the same band, both have made huge strides in the music industry; Rudolf in Scorpions, and Michael in UFO, and MSG. Michael’s contribution to Lovedrive is phenomenal (and he let us know not a few times during the set how he felt about his treatment), but his other work shines just as strong.

With a catalog dating back decades, across three bands, and multiple vocalists to choose from, mounting a tour, and bringing all the elements together is no small feat. From the McAuley Schenker Group, to the Michael Schenker Group, and Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, all things were considered, and all bases covered, with vocalists Robin McAuley, Graham Bonnet, and Gary Barden sharing vocal duties, be it harmonizing with each other, or taking the stage solo.

The Truman, normally a standing room only venue, brought reserved seats out for the near-sell-out show, but they didn’t stay occupied for long, with the crowds spilling out into the aisles, and moving up to the stage to take selfies with the very obliging musicians. Michael’s virtuosity with the guitar is well known, and he did not disappoint that night; in fact, all members were in top form. Graham did seem to struggle a little bit during the first couple of songs, but his voice quickly warmed up, and he held nothing back.

Also appearing onstage were longtime bassist, Chris Glen, and keyboardist/guitarist, Steve Mann. Each member fully enjoying themselves onstage, interacting with the crowd, and genuinely enjoying themselves playing the music that we all have loved the past few decades. Of course, noticeably absent, was drummer Ted McKenna, who passed away earlier this year. Michael paid tribute to him, and departed UFO guitarist, Paul Raymond. Michael expressed his gratitude, and love for both men, and even wore a button with Ted’s photo throughout the set. Bodo Schopf, who had played with the group during the 80’s, filled the big shoes, and played masterfully.

For a show with multiple singers, moving in and out of the stage, things worked remarkably smoothly, and it was clear that everyone was enjoying each other’s company. Each member had their chance to shine, with Gary Barden on hits like Rock My Nights Away, Graham Bonnet blowing everyone away with Desert Song, and Robin McAuley commanding the stage with Love is not a Game. The music is incredible, and holds up strongly all these years later. Even someone not familiar with the tunes, with an appreciation of 80’s hard rock, would certainly enjoy themselves here.

With Resurrection dropping last year, and a healthy touring schedule, Michael Schenker and company show no signs of slowing down soon. They’re masters of their craft, and enjoy every minute of it.

Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin

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