Home Gigs Gig Review : Michael Schenker Group: Immortal Tour 2021 with Doro ,KK’s Steel Mill: Wolverhampton: 30th October 2021

Gig Review : Michael Schenker Group: Immortal Tour 2021 with Doro ,KK’s Steel Mill: Wolverhampton: 30th October 2021

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Review by Pete Finn for MPM

So, this is a first for me, a trip to KK’s Steel Mill in Wolverhampton, a venue I’m looking forward to seeing as much as the bands performing tonight. Living with Rock City effectively on my doorstep, in my eyes the benchmark is set pretty high.

In fact, the last time I was in Wolverhampton, I was at The Civic Hall (a truly classic venue) to see Michael Schenker supporting Birmingham’s own lads Judas Priest back in 2015.

Again, Schenker is sharing the stage with another leather clad lead singer, this time a compatriot in the fine form of The Queen of Metal, Doro.

Doro, returns to these shores only a month or so after her storming headline show at The Rockin’ The Bowl Festival in Sheffield.

We (my Gig Buddy and MPM Photographer, Manny) arrive at KK’s Steel Mill, which is nestled in-between an industrial estate and retail park, there’s plenty of parking nearby and only a 5-minute walk to the venue.

Once inside it reminds me of the corn shed on the farm, but painted matt black. It’s a good size and the layout includes a couple of decent sized bars, with a pint a respectful £4.00. Although, the main hall has a slope on the floor, away from the stage, somewhat similar to some of the rural football pitches I played on in my youth.

 There’s an even mix of Doro, Warlock, MSG and UFO T-shirts worn by the assembling masses, and a good queue at the Merch Stall.

Confession time…I’ve never been a big Doro fan, rather more of an appreciative fan, after all she’s sung duets with Lemmy, and toured with Ronnie James Dio. Now, I was at Rockin’ The Bowl, and she won me over (and I was not alone) with a brilliant mix of energy, power, passion, and some absolute thumping songs, including a rendition of Priest’s ‘Breaking the Law’ accompanied by Saxon’s Paul Quinn on guitar.

I’m up for this…

The lights drop, Bas Maas (guitar), Luca Princiotta (guitar), Nick Douglas (bass) and Johnny Dee (drums) glide onto the stage, and start playing the symphonic intro to ‘I Rule The Ruins’, a few moments later there is tornado of shiny black leather, silver studs, chains and blonde hair on the stage, The Queen of Metal has arrived, with the biggest smile across her face. We’re only into the second verse and she already has the crowd chanting, ‘Hey, Hey, Hey’ as requested with the wave of her hand. Then it’s straight into another Warlock track, ‘Burning the Witches’ this time our Queen wants us to join in with the vocals, and as one we oblige.

She is still smiling as she tells us that it’s great to be back in the UK and especially to playing at KK’s Steel Mill, and that back in 1986 her first tour was with Judas Priest.

Next is the anthem ‘Raise Your Fist in the Air’, maximum audience participation is demanded, and without hesitation the air above gets a proper beating. Her band are faultless, as we go into ‘Blood, Sweat and Rock ‘n’ Roll’ they surround her with passionate performances in the same way Knights protect their Queen.

We’re asked if we want some Old School Heavy Metal, you can guess the reply, the Warlock track Hellbound is what we get, fast, hard and thumping, no doubt very similar to the sounds of an old Steel Mill. Doro is still grinning, flicking her hair back and forth, as Bas, Luca, Nick and Johnny start playing ‘All for Metal’, there is the perfect mix of squealing guitars supporting Doro’s vocals, the locals are loving it.

Now it’s time for ‘Revenge’, a high tempo drum beat and equally as quick fret work, a song with passion, god help whoever is on the receiving end of this revenge, fast and punchy.

Doro, pauses for a minute, and gives a nice tribute to KK Downing. He’s in the house tonight and stood not too far from me by the sound board. Then, there’s the very distinctive, albeit, acoustic like, intro for ‘Breaking Da Law’ (yes, I know it’s wrong, but that’s how it’s printed on the bands setlist), soon the band have it up to full speed, with 2000 backing vocalists.

The all too short 45-minute set, finally comes to the end, with another great audience participation song ‘All we Are’, conducted by Doro with a simple point of the microphone to the different sides of the hall.

As the lights come back up, Doro is still stood in the middle of the stage, smiling and waving, she has enjoyed it as much as we have. Her Knights did her proud, they protected and supported their queen. She is The Queen of Metal, and long may her reign continue.

Setlist: I Rule the Ruins; Burning the Witches; Raise Your Fist in the Air; Blood, Sweat and Rock ‘n’ Roll; Hellbound; All for Metal; Revenge; Breaking Da Law; All We Are

A quick look on Wikipedia tells me that Michael Schenker has toured or recorded with 52 different band members during his various versions of ‘Solo’ projects, and some of those have been members more than once, it goes to show the draw of working with Michael Schenker.

Tonight, we have: Ronnie Romero (vocals); Steve Mann (guitar/keyboards); Bodo Schopf (drums); Barend Courbois (bass).

House lights off, AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ starts and as it finishes, and without any fuss, enter stage left, the legend that is Michael Schenker, and just like the line from ‘Armed and Ready’ with a spotlight trained on him…he’s sporting a hat from the ‘Dressing Up Box’ that is a cross between a steam punk, Cossack and a minion.

He adopts the familiar stoop like stance, the Gibson Flying ‘V’ now replaced by his signature Black and White Dean ‘V’. The drums start and we’re off with a 23 song, 2-hour set beginning with ‘Ascension’, he’s got us…

Vocalist Ronnie Romero is introduced to us by Schenker as he joins the rest of the band on the stage, a wave of acknowledgement and straight into the marching beat of ‘Cry for the Nations’. Schenker stands in front of his microphone and shouts ‘Doctor, Doctor’, the crowd rises as one, and those iconic intro notes on the keyboard start, the hairs all stand up, a brave move playing it this early, but, when you have 50 years’ worth of material to go at, there are going to be gems everywhere in the set.

Another Michael Schenker Fest track, ‘Sleeping with the Lights On’ is next, from memory I think all of the previous MSG vocalists sang on the original, Ronnie does a fine job of playing all four parts. Schenker seems to have adopted the role of introducing each track, he screams ‘Assault Attack’, the start/stop drum and guitar salvo starts, this MSG classic is launched.

Ronnie Romero now has a home fixture in ‘We are The Voice’ from the Revelation Album. This is followed by ‘Looking for Love’ which to me feels as close to a power ballad as MSG ever got. Then it’s ‘Warrior’ which starts with a folk style fable, before morphing into a Saxon style battle cry, with a typical intricate Schenker riff at the close.

Ronnie leaves the stage as we’re told to go ‘Into the Arena’, Schenker is the undisputed Champion Gladiator in this Coliseum his ‘axe work’ is relentless, even the lions would run scared. Ronnie returns for ‘Red Sky’ before slowing the evening down with the Scorpions track from ‘Lonesome Crow’, ‘In Search of the Peace of Mind’, a suitable haunting vocal on the eve of Halloween.

Schenker is back to his mic, to announce the UFO classic, ‘Lights Out’, I feel this is another one the faithful have been waiting for, as they sing the whole song from start to finish, including the obligatory ‘Lights Out, Lights Out in Wolverhampton’ somehow they manage to get the timing to fit.

Once the crowd get their breath back, it’s an offering from the latest album ‘Immortal’ and ‘After the Rain’, a song with emotion and passion, a melodic controlled number, that lulls us into a false sense of security before the band explodes into ‘Armed and Ready’, with Schenker back at full throttle.

‘Sail the Darkness’ again from ‘Immortal’ has Ronnie growling over a strong rhythmic beat, and Schenker’s short riffs and breaks tying it all together. It’s a change of tack to the somewhat sleazy feeling MSG track ‘Rock You to the Ground’, this suits Schenker’s stooping swaying style, he springs to life with his finely balanced solo, before reverting to the low sleazy sound and then finishing with a high-speed crescendo. ‘Drilled to Kill’, an anti-war song from ‘Immortal’, it has Priest style vocals, thumping and fast passed drumming, with fine Deep Purple like keyboard solos and Schenker’s guitar battling it out for supremacy.

From me a provocative statement…” UFO’s live album ‘Strangers in the Night’ is the best live album ever.” Tonight, we were treated to ‘Rock Bottom’ which was played note perfect to the original recording on that album. WOW! The crowd stood in awe, knowing they were witnessing one of those “I’ve really seen it” moments, this was worth the ticket price, beer price, car park and petrol costs alone. We were watching and enjoying the legend that is Michael Schenker, what a way to close the main set.

Encore time, but one of those where the band doesn’t leave the stage so they can play an extra song instead. Time for Schenker to make his first guitar change of the evening. He tells us that it is a special 50th Anniversary version of his ‘V’, a gold and white one. He introduces it to us, with the rip-roaring UFO track ‘Shoot, Shoot’, in fact the whole of the 5-song encore were UFO tracks, maybe a sign of where his heart is? We were treated to ‘Let it Roll’, ‘Natural Thing’, ‘Too Hot to Handle’ and the show closer ‘Only You Can Rock Me’.

Tonight, the musicians from both bands were amazing, we had two ‘Greatest Hits’ sets. We were entertained by proper Rock Royalty. We were very lucky, and ‘Rock Bottom’…WOW!

If you missed MSG on this tour, then they’re back next year at The Stonedead Festival in August.

Setlist: Ascension; Cry for The Nations; Doctor, Doctor; Sleeping with The Lights On; Assault Attack; We are The Voice; Looking for Love; Warrior; Into The Arena; Red Sky; In Search of the Peace of Mind; Lights Out; After the Rain; Armed and Ready; Sail the Darkness; Rock You to the Ground; Drilled to Kill; Rock Bottom; Shoot, Shoot; Let it Roll; Natural Thing; Too Hot to Handle; Only You Can Rock Me.

Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

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