MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP – Live At Rockpalast – Hamburg 1981

MiG 2010 / 2017

Teutonic knight and his British entourage deliver tuneful rage to the Hanseatic city to take no prisoners yet hold ’em tight till the end.

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - Live At Rockpalast - Hamburg 1981

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP –
Live At Rockpalast –
Hamburg 1981

There’s something special about MSG: you don’t have to be familiar with this ensemble repertoire to be engulfed in its sweet assault – and it was the same at the onset of the band’s decades-long journey, as their 1981 set, preserved here on CD and DVD, strongly suggests. Featuring the most muscular line-up, the show is oozing adrenaline, and if the crowd’s roar and stomp conceal a few motionless figures, that’s because some punters were simply stunned by the proceedings. Unbridled vigor is thrown at the audience from the first riffs of “Armed And Ready” – the collective’s leader peeling filigree licks off his Flying V that are anchored only by the solid straddle of Chris Glen’s bottom end, firmly locked in with Cozy Powell’s hammer-like beat – and the energy doesn’t let go until the flashes of “Lights Out” bring it all to a frenzied close.

Occasional number may be wonderfully rough around the edges in vocal department, as befits concert environment, but Schenker’s shredding is inspired throughout, whether Michael is going for a personal showcase or injecting a little passage into a piece every now and again. His white-and-black guitar in visual harmony with Gary Barden’s outfit and in sonic union with the left-handed Paul Raymond’s six strings, here’s an order to the madness, and while the artists seem to playfully spur each other to undermine the seriousness “Cry For The Nations” is supposed to establish – so the heaviness breaks loose after this effervescently funky cut – it isn’t hard to notice attention to detail they apply to the performance.

The group’s self-titled debut delivered live almost in its entirety, with two tracks taken out of the record’s running order, the gaps get filled by U.F.O. classics – inserted in a very logical spots and somewhat lacking former glory. Yet if melodic changes in “Doctor Doctor” eat away at the song’s ever-envious vigor, the fusion translucence of Schenker’s fretboard lace help the too-much-stretched “Rock Bottom” to maintain initial momentum. More so, Barden adds newfangled swagger to “Natural Thing” whose defiance should match the stacks of Marshall amps that occupy a lot of stage space, the deafening drums squeezed between them. The singer not only replaces Raymond at the ivories to bolster the unhinged “Victim Of Illusions” and hoists Paul on his shoulders during the encore, but also supplies guitar chords to refined interplay on “Into The Arena” where a short four-string solo is shaking the ground – as it also would in “Lost Horizons” after rhythm section has had a field day on “Feels Like A Good Thing” – viscously romantic when set against the fuzz of “Lookin’ Out From Nowhere” and just as riveting as in a studio version.

It’s a unique document of a hard rock institution’s formative years, capturing the magic of five legendary musicians; in other words, a masterclass if not masterpiece.

****2/3

August 27, 2018

Category(s): DVD Reviews, Reissues
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