On November 11th, 2012, San Diego, California was the site and last date of the Michael Schenker (MSG) tour. Playing at the venue Brick by Brick, MSG took the stage to a very enthusiastic audience. Lead singer Dave Vanlanding, (Tony MacAlpine, Crimson Glory and Michael Schenker) said that this was the band’s 31st concert in 40 nights. For most, that doesn’t sound like a grueling schedule; however, the band isn’t in their twenties anymore and the late nights take a toll, especially on singer Dave Vanlanding. “We are not like a thrash metal band that can do 100 shows in a 100 nights; we have needed the breaks to continue to play at a high level,” said Vanlanding. “It is very important to all the members of the band that we put 110% effort in each and every show.”
The rock star lifestyle for the older bands has changed into exercise and nutrition, far from the days of partying ‘til 5:00 am each night. The preparation and discipline for each show is what gives exactly the type of experience all the members of the band now strive for. Vanlanding was filling in at the last-minute for Robin MacAuley, who had to pull out of the tour because of an undisclosed illness. Luckily for MSG, Vanlanding was available, having played with them many times before. Bass player and owner of Dean Guitars Elliot Rubinson also expressed the need for rest and how he has to balance his days. Rubinson is much disciplined in his routine. After sound check, Rubinson and Vanlanding grabbed some dinner and took to the tour bus for the next four hours before they were to perform to rest and get ready for the show. Michael Schenker left the venue and headed back to his hotel. “I get up at eight every morning, especially on the west coast,” said Rubinson, ” because of the time difference I still need to conduct Dean Guitar business and being on the road doesn’t change that. Balancing my work and playing is not difficult, but very time-consuming. I play bass with Michael as a hobby, but Dean Guitars is my business and needs my attention while on the road.”
Schenker likes to be an independent musician, which means that he doesn’t have a set band when he plays. When setting up a tour, it is time to check and see if he’s available to hit the road. Like most rock artists today, they are involved in many projects and the next time MSG tours, it is very unlikely that you will see the same five guys on stage. Listening to the fans before the show, many of them were talking about what MSG would play and listing off their favorite songs. With so many songs to choose from, it is never easy to put together a set list, but it is carefully planned and rehearsed thoroughly before each show.
When eleven pm hit, the band was ready to take the stage and give everything they have to the audience that was ready. Guitar player Ronny North was the opening act and blistered his guitar with new songs from his album, Inertia, getting the crowd ready for MSG. As always, North is very engaging with the audience and brings his unique style to the stage. MSG opened up with Love Drive to the delight of the fans, followed by Another Piece of Meat, Save Yourself and Into the Arena. When Schenker walked on stage, he stalked the crowd before giving many people in the front row high fives and then shredded his guitar with each note. The crowd gave the band a lot of energy, even for an intimate setting, and you could see with each song the band giving back their heart and soul. Mixing in some UFO tunes like Rock Bottom and Doctor Doctor just gave the evening that special feeling. From beginning to end, the band didn’t let up and looked like they could have played for another two hours, but sadly the show came to an end, but with the promise that MSG would return soon.
Concerts are like a great piece of art; once you see it, you never forget it. This show was no different and lived up to expectations and then passed them. Seeing a show that is put together and executed to perfection only gives the audience the taste for more, which is what every fan wants. MSG delivered the goods and the only downfall is how they can possibly out do themselves on the next tour.