Meister's Metal Mayhem

German guitar heavyweight Michael Schenker brought his Bridge the Gap tour into Toronto for two back to back nights of blistering guitar shredding featuring some great local talents. Saturday January 18, 2014 at The Rockpile West saw Crisis Kings and Top Dead Centre representing the Toronto music scene while Sunday January 19, 2014 at The Rockpile East featured Skrou and Flux 440.

Both nights also showcased two bands on tour with the Schenker ensemble, the first being Hollywood California’s Gundriver. The young guys of Gundriver delivered a set of high energy rock led by the riffs of Tom Potter and Crazy Tomes’ thundering bass lines. The sound was rounded out by Alex Riva’s pounding drum beats and Scott Siegel’s soaring vocals, be on the lookout for Gundriver!Michael

The young Italian shredder Ethan Brosh is cut from the mold of greats like George Lynch and Joe Satriani and assaulted the audience with his passionate instrumental set. Brosh was absolutely face-melting and there is no doubt of this young shredder’s playing ability, however, I would have preferred some vocal accompaniment.  Brosh is the guitar player in Angels of Babylon along side David Ellefson (Megadeth) and is also the founder of the band Burning Heat who are in the process of recording their debut album.  Expect to hear more from Ethan Brosh.

And now for the man of the hour, “Mr. Michael Schenker.”  Schenker is best known for his time in Scorpions and UFO as well as various incarnations of his namesake band The Michael Schenker Group (MSG).  Schenker appeared on Scorpions debut recording, Lonesome Crow at the age of 15!  He left them to join UK band UFO and stayed with them for the albums recordings of  Phenomenon, 1974, Force It 1975, No Heavy Petting 1976, Lights Out 1977 and Obsession 1978 also appearing on the live album Strangers in the Night 1979 which was issued after his departure.  Returning to Scorpions for 1979’s Lovedrive, and soon after formed his own band MSG which releasing several (five studio and one live) albums, one featured Graham Bonnet on vocals before a re-organising of the band.  The new MSG included vocalist Robin McAuley and was billed as McAuley Schenker Group.  The union of Rock Rag #22-Bridging the Gap-#1McAuley and Schenker resulted in three studio albums, Perfect Timing, 1987, Save Yourself, 1989, and M.S.G., 1992; 1992 also saw Nightmare: The Acoustic M.S.G. and “Unplugged” Live in 1993.  He returned to UFO on two occasions with another bout of MSG; Schenker has been steadily releasing albums ever since. His latest effort titled Bridge the Gap features a band consisting of drummer Herman Rarebell, bassist Francis Buchholz (both former Scorpions members), guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and Scottish vocalist Doogie White (Rainbow).

The Bridge the Gap tour made two stops in Toronto, one at each of the Rockpile locations on Saturday January 18 and Sunday January 19, 2014.  Rarebell and Buchholz were unavailable for the tour so bassist Rev Jones and Rock Rag #22-Bridging the Gap #3drummer Pete Holmes (Black ‘n Blue) were inducted into the Temple of Rock.  The audience was treated to such songs as Neptune Rising, Where the Wild Winds Blow and Horizons from the newest Bridge the Gap album, and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead off  the Temple of Rock from 2011.  A healthy dose of other classic MSG compositions like Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, Assault Attack, Cry for the Nations, Armed & Ready, Attack of the Mad Axeman, Into the Arena, and Rock My Nights Away peppered the set list.  There was also a nod to Scorpions with Another Piece of Meat and Lovedrive before a powerhouse UFO finish featuring Shoot Shoot, Lights Out, Only You Can Rock Me, Let It Roll, Too Hot To Handle and the encores of Rock Bottom and Doctor, Doctor.

On both nights the vocals were excellently handled by Doogie White and the whole band was a tight unit. Rev Jones is  really looking into it but the feature of the night was certainly Michael Schenker who appears to be every bit the legend that he’s accused of being.  Don’t miss the Bridge the Gap tour as it rolls through the US until mid February.


The Meister

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*****Live Photos courtesy of Jackie lynn*****

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