Guitar Hero Michael Schenker returns to Japan for Universal Tour

Michael Schenker Group MSG 2021 promo photo by Tina K. Press
Michael Schenker Group MSG 2021 promo photo by Tina K. Press

Guitar Hero Michael Schenker returns to Japan for Universal Tour

by Edward L. Holland
Stripes Japan

After cancelations in 2020 due to COVID-19, German guitarist Michael Schenker returned for two sold-out nights on Nov 21 and 22 at the Nakano Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo and for one show in Osaka to promote his album, Universal on Atomic Fire Records.

The jubilant and masked crowds descended upon Sun Plaza coveted for years by the likes of David Bowie, Kraftwerk, The Scorpions, and Iron Maiden as the hall is unfortunately scheduled for destruction in 2024.

The 2022 tight-knit Michael Schenker Group consists of: Steve Mann, music director on guitar and keyboards, veteran drummer Bodo Schopf, newcomers Barend Courbois, formerly of Blind Guardian on bass guitar and the spirited Ronnie Romero from Chile on vocals, aptly covering singers from Schenker’s 50-year career. From his first super group, UFO throughout various incarnations, the guitarist brought his nimble, effortless straight-ahead rock to the faithful on a plateau some musicians only dream of capturing.

His leadership and ability was on full display both nights, a musical force lauded by lead guitarist Kirk Hammet of Metallica and virtuosos above like Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne.

Both nights packed in 4,500 fans, gobbling up merchandise, singing and pumping their fists to 17-song 90-minute performances. On his signature Dean Model Flying V axe, Schenker burned through stellar tracks by UFO and his solo works from the eighties like Into the Arena.

The shows ended with renditions of UFO’s Only You Can Rock Me as adoring devotees yearned for more.

This group, possibly his strongest effort brought forth in years has no apparent desire to slow down their steaming, locomotive assault on the rock masses anytime soon.

Happiness brought on by Schencker’s music is Universal and during three pivotal stops on the 50th Anniversary Japan Tour, his cascading talent continues to make positive waves. The award-winning musician mentioned closing out the Sun Plaza shows, “See you next time. Until then, keep on rocking!”

Special thanks to guitarists, Steve Mann and Alex Fukuda for their assistance. Stay tuned for part two in a series of concert reviews with KISSmas Comes Early to Tokyo Dome 2022 coming soon.

MSG Crowd at Nakano Sun Plaza Hall by Edward L. Holland

Michael Schenker Onstage

Backstage at Sun Plaza photo illustration by Edward L. Holland

Michael Schenker Group Universal

Edward L. Holland is a tour manager working in Japan, and retired JAG paralegal. He has volunteered for Japanese events and is a recipient of a community service award from the cabinet office of the Government of Japan.

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