Towards the end of last year, I was fortunate enough to score the job of reviewing the new album by Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, Spirit on a Mission. Not only did the album utterly blow me away but I also found out that the band was visiting Inverness, of all places, on the UK leg of the Spirit on a Mission tour. This was far too good an opportunity to pass up in my rock-starved neck of the woods, and I have to say major kudos to The Ironworks venue for pulling it off. I grabbed two tickets immediately!
Fast-forward to last night and Mini-hoops (17-year old fledgling guitarist) and I get to the venue early enough to end up somehow front and centre for the entire show. The single support slot is filled by Venrez, an L.A.-based hard rock outfit who I’d never heard of previously, and also completely overlooked in my excitement at seeing the headliners; a serious oversight on my part because these guys played a great set. From the start, the band sets itself apart with unison vocals throughout from the front man Venrez and guitarist Jason Womack. Built around drummer Ed Davis and bassist Cynthia Gillet‘s heavy groove, the music is melodic and full of crunching riffs with some awesome sonic texturing from Womack on guitar. Both Mini-hoops and I are totally sold after the first song. I need to check this band out further!
There is very little turnaround before the lights go down and, in a master-stroke, we get the whole of AC/DC‘s “Highway to Hell” before the band even takes the stage. If there were any doubt at all, we’re in for a killer night of RAWK!!
And, man, that’s exactly what we get. Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock features Doogie White on vocals, Herman Rarebell on Drums, Francis Buchholz on bass, Wayne Findlay on keyboards along with an incredible slab of 7 string guitar (a fitting altar for this particular temple), and from the minute they open the set with UFO‘s “Doctor Doctor” until the crashing, ear-bursting “Blackout” encore this band are having a huge amount of fun while they completely crush each track. Each member is ON and we’re treated to some really incredible guitar playing from Michael Schenker, which if anything, surpasses what I expected; it’ll be a treasured memory that so many times during the concert, in amongst all the headbanging and throwing of horns, Mini-hoops and I shared a silent “Whoaa! WTF!” look after a particularly nasty Schenker note-bend or fretboard acrobatic.
The set mixed old and new in healthy amounts, with The Scorpions and UFO tracks alongside current Spirit on a Mission tracks like “Vigilante Man”, “Live and Let Live” and “Saviour Machine”, so there’s plenty here to satisfy all manner of fan, and with the tour set to continue through the UK before heading to Scandinavia and then Miami for the Axes and Achors Cruise this is one tour I would, and will, enthusiastically recommend. Go see it!
Crappy mobile phone photos (C) hoops