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Review: Michael Schenker at the O2 Academy Newcastle

Simon Rushworth witnesses a disastrous gig on Tyneside from the former UFO star and his assembled band

**
Mick Burgess Michael Schenker at the O2 Academy Newcastle
Michael Schenker at the O2 Academy Newcastle

It’s doubtful poor Doogie White will ever forget this disastrous opening date on the UK leg of the Bridge The Gap tour. A show that was supposed to complement the man on his left – mercurial guitar hero Michael Schenker - rapidly descended into farce with the muddiest of mixes destroying any semblance of professionalism.

No wonder White finally snapped ahead of a strained encore – pleading with those behind the sound desk to save him from a maddening haze of reverb and feedback. It was too little, too late. For the previous 90 minutes nothing could be done to bring the feisty Scot to the fore and he was left to fend for himself in front of a crowd increasingly frustrated with their lot.

It had all started so well with opening act Western Sand in sparkling form. The bluesy, Southern Rock-tinged Hampshire quartet are studiously carving out a niche as the UK’s answer to Black Stone Cherry and frontman Tyler Hains appears to have it all. As adept with his guitar as he is roaring his way through modern classics Cut You Down To Size and Dark Horse, the singer songwriter is a genuine find.

If Western Sand will look back on their latest trip to Tyneside with fondness it’s unlikely Schenker’s band will want to recall their night ever again. The main man was the only member of the headline act to emerge with any credit – predominantly because he battled the horrific mix with the determination of a seasoned performer and ensured his best work was clearly audible.

Mick Burgess Michael Schenker at the O2 Academy Newcastle
Michael Schenker at the O2 Academy Newcastle
 

White, meanwhile, refused to throw in the towel as he attempted to make himself heard on spirited renditions of Lovedrive, Doctor Doctor and Victim Of Illusion. A victim of circumstances, the disgruntled frontman appeared relieved when the instrumental Coast To Coast offered refuge from an increasingly excruciating public humiliation.

Schenker was either oblivious to his band mate’s predicament or acutely aware that he needed to pull out all the stops to save the night.

The former UFO star did just that with a memorable shift on Vigilante Man followed by a burst of trademark ferocity on Rock You Like A Hurricane. White finally made some headway belting out the Scorpions’ classic but there was only brief respite from the unrelenting gremlins crippling his very best efforts.

This should have been an evening of celebration in the company of a genuine rock god. Instead the bemused masses drifted into the Newcastle night dreaming of anything but a White Christmas.

Simon Rushworth

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