Michael Schenker Fest/Departed –
O2 Academy, Sheffield, Friday 3rd November, 2017
Set List: Superstitious/Follow Me/All I Want/Dreaming/Pretty Little Thing/Steal Your Crown/Soul Shaker/Come On/All The Way/Tie Your Mother Down/Are You Ready?
Now these guys are a confident bunch of young rockers who are really starting to make their mark in their own right on their own soil. Devon's Departed are on fire when it comes to cranking out ten strong set. Their 45 minutes up there is a well-crafted blend of well-written rock 'n' roll who soon have the crowd on their side.
Frontman, Mark Pascall letting the hair flow the second song in that was kept under his cap for us all to see was a cool spectacle as were the highlights like the ballsy 'Dreaming' with same quality riffing going down. Other gems included the exquisitely tackled 'Steal Your Crown' especially in the high note vocals and the outstanding 'Are You Ready?' that closed their debut in Steel City.
It also worked well to throw in a Queen classic – the ever, powerful 'Tie Your Mother Down' towards the closing of the set that guaranteed some good ole audience participation from the throat. Overall, Departed presented some superb soloing, a killer rhythm section and outstanding vocals throughout.
Looking forward to seeing a full-length album from the 'D' team who were out to meet fans new and old afterwards.
Set List: Intro: Yin And Yang/Let Sleeping Dogs Lie/Into The Arena/Victim Of Illusion/Cry For The Nations/Attack Of The Mad Axeman/Armed And Ready/Coast To Coast/Desert Song/Dancer/Assault Attack/Captain Nemo/No Time For Losers/Save Yourself/Bad Boy/Love Is Not A Game/Rock Bottom.
Encore: Doctor Doctor/Lights Out.
Now here is something that we never expected to happen – Michael Schenker on stage with many of his former singers for a solid show of MSG classics and a few delves into the UFO back catalogue too.
From those opening notes of the intro 'Yin And Yang' when the house lights went out, the energy and emotion came in thick slabs from the Sheffield audience, not to mention massive applause when Michael Schenker himself (also the name of his website) took to that stage with a trademark flash Dean black and white Flying V.
The proceedings of the night were extremely well co-ordinated to the second with everything flowing perfectly. Sound and light-wise it really could not have been better – hence the killer pics I managed to show to you all. Each separate singer got to shine in his own right which went in the order of Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley before they all joined up together for the last song or two.
Every vocalist was in fine voice with the band alongside Michael made up of Chris Glen, Ted Mckenna and Steve Mann. We were treat to several instrumental numbers to that came before and after each vocals section which balanced out the show really well – plus Michael does love playing those out of this world, to die for solo pieces too. 'Into The Arena' being a personal fave of mine out of them as well.
Vocal highlights included 'Cry For The Nations' & 'Victim Of Illusion' from Gary Barden; Graham Bonnet's belting take of 'Assault Attack' and the poppier 'Dancer'; not to mention getting his banana out - an ode to that infamous Sheffield City Hall gig many moons ago – lol!
Then there was 'Bad Boys' from the McAuley Scenker days; the epic lengthy 'Rock Bottom' complete with guitar solo, again with Robin on vocals and the closing 'Lights Out' with every single singer on stage! The camaraderie and lyric trading was so damn polished as well without any trip-ups at all.
There was so much love and enjoyment in the O2 Academy tonight from both band members and the audience in one of the finest shows I have ever seen at this venue so far. Michael even switched to a red and black Flying V at one point which was marvellous to see, not to mention astounding everyone with his faultless, pristine guitar playing throughout the show. There were plenty of smiles and quite a bit of chatting from the great man too!
A lot had gone into the finesse of the stage costume as well with every member looking a million dollars up there. It all fit together so well and then on top of that was the glorious backdrop. With only four dates for the UK Tour, Sheffield got lucky! Schenker loves playing Sheffield and we love having him here too – and of course all his band members as well.
The fans in here loved every second of this prestigious concert and it's hard to give full justice to the event in simply words alone – you really had to be there to truly feel it in your heart and soul on equal measures. Can't wait to do it all again some time next year as a new album will be out (Resurrection) with Doogie White added to list of singers too!
Be nice to see other artists follow suit and do what Michael Schenker has really surprised us with.
This was a show that was outstanding in every way possible!
By Glenn Milligan