DVD review: Michael Schenker's ToR – 'On A Mission'

Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – “On A Mission: Live In Madrid”

Before I even pressed play on this DVD I sat and thought long and hard about the living legend that is Michael Schenker. I won’t put a date on when I first fell in love with Rock/Metal (as you could figure out how old I really am), but it was a long time ago, and when I think about it, Michael Schenker has been with me every step of the way.

With all the celebrity deaths about in 2016 it is time to heap praise on those who are here and still performing to a high calibre. Mr Schenker is one of these people. He is a giant among men. He has been in some of the largest bands there has ever been in rock, and he is still going strong with amazing live performances and studio albums. Check out last year’s “Spirit On A Mission” for a start.

This man is entwined in the very soul of metal, The Flying V, the amazing riffs, and a part of the favourite songs of my childhood, teen years, and adulthood.  You just need to look at the track listing on this DVD/CD combo… ‘Doctor Doctor’, ‘Lights Out’, ‘Rock Bottom’, and ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’, to name but a few. This DVD brought me pure unadulterated joy.

My vinyl collection has every one of the albums that these songs came from. They are old, crackly, and skip, but they tell the story of a boy finding his way, feeling at home and embracing the music I love so much. It has never left me or let me down. I have seen the man on many a stage over the years, in all the bands, and in fact I have my own Schenker story that I still feels he owes me a pint, for all the grief I got. I got an engagement ring thrown at me and told to “Shove It” as I would not cancel going to see Scorpions (well, they didn’t tour the UK too often in those days)… this is what this music means to me.

The DVD starts with “Doctor Doctor”, and what a way to kick it off… this would normally be at the closing of a UFO set. Now, I do not believe you can replace singers like Mogg, Meine, or Barden… well, not with one singer, but with Doogie ‘how the fuck did I get overlooked for the Rainbow tour’ White, you have a singer with an incredible voice who can do justice to every song, and someone who does not try to copy a style. He is far too talented in his own right to fall into that trap. He is perfect for this band, as he can cover the whole spectrum of the axeman’s back catalogue.

The band is also full of talent, starting at the back with the fantastic Herman ‘I cannot sing for shit’ Rarebell. His drumming is as fantastic as it was in the heyday of the 80’s. You then have Wayne ‘What actually is this guitar shape all about’ Findlay, who plays keys, and is also a mean guitarist in his own right. The line up is completed by Francis ‘sorry guys, I am the bass player’ Buchholz giving us the backbone to the sound.

The band are as tight as I remembered from last time I saw them live, and they were on fire in this not-so-little venue in Madrid. I felt the crowd took a couple of songs to warm up, but by the end they were singing their heads off, and I can see why they chose the Joy Eslava Theatre to shoot the DVD.

For me their are just too many highlights to choose from but if I had to, ‘Rock Bottom’ and ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ are just immense. You also get Herman getting the crowd up and forcing them to sing along with him.

For me, as a Scotsman, it is also brilliant to watch Doogie on that stage… not because of his presence, his wit, his charm, or vocals, but it proves the common Scot, no matter how or what they do, are all a bit useless at different languages. Anything technical, and they just sound like commoners. It kind of makes me smile, and think that could be a mate up there… he will finish the show, get to the bar, and proceed to talk crap and get smashed (it isn’t a stereotype if it’s a fact, folks).

If there is any downside to this DVD, it is with the actual footage. I don’t know if it is because I also do gig photography, but for me it was a bit weak. The quality is top notch, but there were too many shots from the back of the crowd, with idiots holding their phones up… now I hate this at the best of times, but people… you knew it was getting professionally filmed. Why the hell you thought your shitty phone camera are going to do this any justice, I have no idea. There were lots of unintentional out of focus moments, and too many cut off heads, guitars and band members… but as I said, it could just be me.

The main thing is, if you have ever had a record or CD that Michael Schenker has been a part of, you need this in your collection. I do not care if it is the DVD or just the CD, just buy one. This DVD sees the man come out of his shell. He has been a very private man, and has admitted he is not confident or at ease with what he does, but he really does seem in his happy place right now, and long may that continue.

Review: Ritchie Birnie


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