Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock – On A Mission – Live In Madrid DVD


Watching the man when he’s on form is always a pleasure…

Released through Inakustik on 29 April 2016 and used to annoy the neighbours by Paul “Armed and Ready” Quinton

When Michael Schenker and his men decided to make a permanent, visual record of their lengthy, and still ongoing, ‘Spirit On A Mission’ Tour, they settled on the show at the historic Joy Esalva Theatre in Madrid for the filming. The guitarist seems to be going through a bit of a purple patch in the last couple of years, playing some excellent shows and recording solid new albums, although never quite reaching the heights of his work with UFO and the early days of his solo career. It probably helps that he now seems to have a band he’s worked with for a while and obviously has a lot of faith in, as well as his long-time collaborator Wayne Findlay on guitar and keyboards, the band are also blessed with the old Scorpions rhythm section of bassist Francis Buchholz and drummer Herman Rarebell, plus the experienced Doogie White on vocals, a man with some experience of working with brilliant but unpredictable guitarists, as his time in Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore and his stint in Yngwie Malmsteen’s band testifies.

Although it wasn’t necessarily the biggest show of the tour, and for all its history, the theatre has a surprisingly small stage, in order to produce the best possible quality recording, the production team used some state of the art technology, including filming with 4K cameras and using microphones carefully positioned around the theatre so as to be able to mix the Blu Ray release in Dolby Atmos 3D, although I should say the 5.1 Dolby mix on the basic DVD is excellent. But for all the technology, the filming of the concert itself is relatively straightforward, with no special effects, or elaborate production techniques. There are no fancy visual effects, nor even introductory scene setting shots before the performance begins, whether of the outside of the theatre, queuing fans, or anything we’ve seen on so many other concert films.

On this DVD the video begins with a darkened stage and then we’re straight into the show. Similarly throughout the set, the focus is solely on the performance, without even a surplus of crowd shots, although it’s something of a feast for guitar nuts, with, as you might expect, plenty of close ups of Schenker’s guitar work, particularly during the epic 15 minute version of UFO’s ‘Rock Bottom’ that forms the centrepiece of the show. Even if he never quite recaptures the incendiary genius of his UFO years, he is still a tremendously melodic and fluid player and always worth watching and listening to.

The set itself is pretty much the same one the band brought to the UK earlier this year, combining his newer songs with a healthy selection of songs from his time with UFO, his work with the Scorpions and under his own name. If I’m honest, I would have liked a little more from the early days of the Michael Schenker Group, there’s no ‘Armed and Ready’ or ‘Lost Horizons’ for instance, but the UFO and Scorpions tracks, especially, are thrilling, with the highlights being the terrific instrumental ‘Coast to Coast’, ‘Natural Thing’ and the old Scorps favourite ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane’, with Herman Rarebell conducting the crowd’s singing, and it was good to hear Schenker’s own ‘Victim of Illusion’ again, too. The whole thing ends with a satisfyingly hectic run through ‘Blackout’, although I really liked the end shots of Schenker himself slapping as many of the front row’s hands he could reach before the show ended.

On the basic DVD I watched, there are only two extras, one shot outside the theatre before the show, with Doogie White making himself available for selfies, and the other shot during the soundcheck while the band run through ‘Rock My Nights Away’ and ‘Only You Can Rock Me’, and much as I love watching the nuts and bolts of how shows are put together, I don’t think either of these extras would bear repeated viewing.

This release is available in a number of formats, including this standard DVD, a Blu-Ray, a double CD if you only want the audio, and, as the whole thing is shot in 4K, there will be a Blu-Ray 4k disc at some point in the future. For those of a digital frame of mind, it’s also available for download and streaming. In DVD form, it’s a very enjoyable watch for Schenker fans, particularly if you’ve followed his career for a while, and for any fans of the electric rock guitar, watching the man when he’s on form is always a pleasure.

Michael Schenker Temple Of Rock – On A Mission8 out of 10

Concert track list:

  1. Intro – Ocean Odyssey
  2. Doctor Doctor
  3. Live And Let Live
  4. Lights Out
  5. Where The Wind Blows
  6. Natural Thing
  7. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
  8. Victim Of Illusion
  9. Lovedrive
  10. Coast To Coast
  11. Vigilante Man
  12. Rock My Nights Away
  13. Saviour Machine
  14. Too Hot To Handle
  15. Only You Can Rock Me
  16. Lord Of The Lost And Lonely
  17. Rock You Like A Hurricane
  18. Rock Bottom
  19. Horizons
  20. Attack Of The Mad Axeman
  21. Communion
  22. Blackout