Heritage Theater, Campbell, California
February 13, 2014
Again, I must point out how far behind I am with writing these days... so please bear with me as I attempt to relive events from over 2 (TWO!) weeks ago. Anyway, the legend who is Michael Schenker visited Downtown Campbell?! Downtown. Campbell. If you had told me when I was a teenager that The Mad Axeman would be playing in the middle of suburbia in a former high school theater I would not have believed you. Also, here in the 21st Century, Schenker sold out the 800 capacity venue. I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've seen Schenker in a proper venue instead of a sports bar or other weird venue since the 80's. The crowd was mainly the expected aging old school Rock people but the energy in the lobby was younger given how obviously special it was seeing Schenker in such a civilized space.
Evidently they ran out of beer at the concession stand, but thankfully I had one with dinner earlier in shockingly posh downtown Campbell. While waiting in line for the Men's Room a random guy randomly asked me "Aren't you that book guy?" Awkward.. but Murder is everywhere I guess. Thanks, dude... but can I take a piss first?
On paper the setlist was pretty solid: Starting with MSG and solo songs, then easing into a couple of Lovedrive-era Scorpions songs, some rudimentary new songs, and then finishing up with the expected run through of UFO classics. When they started 'Let It Roll' I was waiting for Schenker to hit the solo to see if he was really *on* tonight.. and he NAILED it. It was rather breathtaking actually. Listening to The Mad Axeman play here in the 21st Century is as close to having a time machine as you can get. He's still got *it*..
Unfortunately, Schenker's band on this trek bordered on amateur night. The bassist jumped around and literally danced half the time and I swear he was only playing half the time as well because he was posing so much. He looked ridiculous; I'm not a musician but a Rock bassist should hold things down and not jump around. The singer has worked for Yngwie Malmsteen and Ritchie Blackmore in the past but I was hard pressed to believe his resume because he said silly things between songs and tried to lead crowd cheers during a couple of Schenker solos (!?). I'm not a frontman but a Rock singer who is basically the hired gun for a legend should know his place a bit more. He also twice got on the drum riser and started gyrating (for lack of a better term) to the point where the riser itself was moving back and forth at an alarming rate and looked like it would fall over. The drummer looked pissed. Given that we were in an old high school theater you'd think 1/2 of Schenker's band were still in high school. Seriously.
"When our nerves were razor sharp and we'd all let it roll. Let it roll.. Let it roll."