at Concord Music Hall, Chicago, IL, USA, March 17, 2018

MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST (Live at Concord Music Hall, Chicago, IL, USA, March 17, 2018)
Photo: Scott Jeslis

It was a chilly St. Patrick’s Day on this March 17th in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Fortunately, things were about to get much hotter inside the Concord Music Hall! You see this was the night that famed guitar virtuoso, Michael Schenker brought his merry band of gentlemen to the “Windy City”. Instead of bringing one singer, he brought four! In case you hadn’t heard, Michael just this month released a new album under the moniker of “Michael Schenker Fest”. The premise is the new studio album was recorded, in part, by the three original MSG vocalists (Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley) as well as current front man Doogie White.

It was preparing to be a long night as around 8 pm the audience was treated to two opening bands, Hessler and Ladrone, both hailing from the local area of Chicago. The performance and music of both bands seemed to play well to the audience in preparing them for what was sure to be a “eargasm” by Michael and boys. Hessler was more of a classic 80s Metal band with bits of anthem-like Metal while Ladrone’s music had touches of Alice In Chains and Kiss even. Both were well received.

After both opening bands played Schenker’s road crew of course went to work. During their setup something came off as being odd and curious as the road crew posted, as they all do, setlists in front of the musicians, in this case where Michael was to play. Oddly, this setlist was a total of five pages versus the “typical” two for the “typical” ninety-minute set. Perhaps they used a larger font size for aged eyes? Well as the Metal Gods would have is this was not a “typical” setlist, the five pages held songs for what turned out to be an almost 3 hour set by Schenker and boys, all without an intermission even!!!

What transpired this evening was a joy to behold as the set-list danced through the “MSG ages” with mini-setlists for the eras, first with Gary Barden, followed by Graham Bonnet, followed by Robin McAuley and ending up with Doogie White. There were also plenty of instrumental tracks thrown in, typical between switching vocalists, which gave face time, to not only Michael but also Chris Glen on bass, Ted McKenna on drums and Wayne Findlay on guitar / keyboards. Chris and Ted of course have a long history on many MSG albums with Assault Attack perhaps being one of their biggest. The set-list was a complete joy with each vocalist performing their biggest hits / favored songs. There was also a sufficient amount of new tracks thrown in from the new studio album Resurrection. Also, through the show the singers not performing were brought back onto stage to perform in a backing vocal capacity. This didn’t happen an extreme lot just where it seemed to make sense and of course on new tracks like “Warrior” where it was a combined effort originally. Of all the singers time seemed to be the hardest on Gary Barden, he still delivered a strong performance, but he just can’t hit those high notes as easily anymore. Graham Bonnet sounded great and delivered on his songs as did Robin McAuley. Doogie also put in a strong performance for his material sounding better actually than the last time they passed through Chicago three years ago.

Going in expecting a ninety-minute show and being treated to an almost three-hour set was an astonishing feeling. It’s unbelievable that Michael played all that time without a break. The wonderful thing is, he seems to be as good now as he’s ever been. The other recognizable thing is he just seems to be enjoying himself. He addressed the crowd more on this night than any other tours witnessed by those in attendance. He ran around the stage, smiled at the audience, and delivered many of his trademark poses. He also thanked, hugged, and showed genuine gratitude for each vocalist as they left the stage for their “portion” of the set-list. Now it should not come off as a spoiler that he did play UFO’s “Rock Bottom” where he typically performs his extended solo and tonight was no exception. What was astounding is that he delivered that song and extended solo as part of the final encore which was past the two and half hour mark! To play that long and still deliver a powerful extended solo can make people like us feel mortal.

The most essential point is, if you get a chance to see this tour this year make it a priority to go! Who knows how long this line-up will be together and this current tour and stage performance is indeed one for the record books!

Click for the setlist (if you dare)

  • Into The Arena
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  • Cry For The Nations
  • Attack Of The Mad Axeman
  • Messin’ Around
  • Armed And Ready
  • Coast To Coast
  • Desert Song
  • Dancer
  • Night Moods
  • Searching For A Reason
  • Assault Attack
  • Captain Nemo
  • Bad Boys
  • Save Yourself
  • Anytime
  • Heart And Soul
  • Love Is Not A Game
  • Searching For Freedom
  • Live And Let Live
  • Vigilante Man
  • Lord Of The Lost And Lonely
  • Take Me To The Church
  • Before The Devil Knows Your Dead
  • Warrior
  • Rock Bottom
  • Doctor Doctor
  • Shoot Shoot
  • Natural Thing
  • Lights Out


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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