It’s been a few months since I caught a live concert but it was definitely worth the wait because, after years of waiting, I finally got to see the Michael Schenker Group in concert! Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for years but I always seem to come up short when he comes close to the New England area. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to see him in New York on the last couple of tours but something always came up to stop me from going…..this time around I wasn’t going to miss the show, billed as the MSG 30th Anniversary World Tour. The Showcase Live is about 15 mins from my house so I bought a ticket as soon as the show was announced. The venue is located in the Patriot Place complex that surrounds Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots). I have never been in the Showcase Live but I have heard it was a cool place for a show.
I got to the arena around 7:30pm (showtime was 8pm) and it was nice to see plenty of people hanging around outside with a wide range of MSG and UFO tour shirts. Once I bought my tour shirt ($25 is more than reasonable!) and went in I was a bit shocked to see a real large crowd that got bigger as the night went on! Foxboro, MA is about 20 minutes from Providence, RI, about an hour from Boston, MA and Hartford, CT so it is an ideal venue smack in the heart of New England. I talked to a lot of people and it turns out that people came from a lot of other states like Maine, New Hamphire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…..this was a serious event! The opening band was a newer act from Sweden, Sister Sin. As I would find out later, Sister Sin has been around since 2003 but they got worldwide exposure with the release of their second full-length album SWITCHBLADE SERENADES in 2008. The band opened pretty much on time and ran through a 7 song/30 minute set that was full of energy and plenty of Metal that reminded me of a combination of early Motley Crue with a NWOBHM influence. I was impressed with the performance and it was nice to meet up with the band after the concert at their merchandise table.
Michael Schenker Group setlist:
Armed And Ready
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Ready To Rock
I Want You
A Night To Remember
Carmine Appice drum solo
Into The Arena
Rock My Nights Away
On And On
Attack Of The Mad Axeman
Ride On My Way
Are you kidding me?! What a setlist! I knew that the band was going to concentrate of the first couple of albums with Gary Barden but I had forgotten just how powerful these songs are…..they have more impact now that I have heard them live. It was great to finally hear classics like ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’ in concert but I was also glad to hear the band play a few newer songs from IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY (2008) like ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘I Want You’. I thought the newer songs fit right in with the classics and I heard more than a few fans singing right along word for word. It was good to hear the classic Schenker/Barden team on stage and Carmine Appice added a thunderous drum sound to the performance. You could tell that the band were having a good time playing both the old and the new and there was a real good energy coming from the stage. Unfortunately, there was a bit of trouble with the sound because there were times that Gary was completely lost in the mix, couldn’t hear him at all near the bar area, but things got a little better as the show moved on. Of course, the highlights were the classics and the crowd got louder for the UFO songs, especially as Gary Barden introduced “a song that is Michael’s legacy”…..’Lights Out’. I had secured a good spot for Sister Sin in the bar area near the soundboard, a perfect view, but I needed to get closer to see Michael. As the show progressed, I was able to make it up front to Michael’s side of the stage so I could see the man work his magic up close. Truly amazing! I was able to make it up to Michael’s side by ‘Lights Out’ and I was blown away. Same thing for ‘Rock Bottom’ during the first encore, watching Michael play that classic solo was one of the best live moments I’ve seen in 25 years of attending concerts. I honestly thought the night was over but the band returned for one last song, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and that brought the place down! A truly classic show from the arena, to the setlist, to the performance! Definitely worth the wait.
Here’s a video from the show that I found on Youtube of the set opener ‘Armed And Ready’:
Please visit the official Michael Schenker website for more tour dates and information.