Live Reviews – Uli Jon Roth – Sully’s Chantilly – Feb. 5th 2013

As soon as I learned that Uli Jon Roth (UJR from here out) was touring the USA late last year I was eagerly following the UJR website as dates were announced, and was greatly relieved/pleased to see a date within a 30 minute drive of the NoVAMetalReview homestead. However Sully’s is a new venue to me, so excuse a moment or two in the following for a quick ‘venue’ review.

Getting back on-topic, the worthy focus of this tour is to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of Uli joining the Scorpions, featuring a selection of songs from each of the five albums he recorded with the Scorps, plus a selection from his solo material. Promising to play material that in some cases hadn’t ever been heard live before, this was an opportunity to see Uli get back to his roots and for some of us “oldies” to relive some of the songs we grew up listening to.

In Uli’s own words: “2013 marks the 40th anniversary of my involvement with the SCORPIONS. The main theme of this tour will therefore be dedicated to performing my personal favourites from the five albums which I recorded with that great band. I have chosen about 30 songs in all from that era as the basis of our repertoire, several of whom have never even been performed live by either the SCORPIONS or myself. We shall be rotating a selection of these songs on the tour, varying our sets on a nightly basis, because we cannot possibly play all of them in one go.”

So, firstly a word on Sully’s…. I tried on multiple occasions to buy tickets ahead of time but this is not possible via their (pathetic) website and after driving there twice in the normal work day only to find them closed I wasn’t overwhelmed. Add to this that their phone just rings and rings until eventually giving you a “memory full” message. Well, overall the impression isn’t a good one. This isn’t improved on when you do get inside. We decided to eat at a nearby Mexican (very good and right next door), but I nipped out to get our ‘tickets’ in case the place sold out, and paid the $50 for our two tickets, except there were no tickets. Huh? The doorman said he would “remember me”! Come on fella’s, this isn’t confidence inspiring. At least give the chap a Sharpie or some of those wrist strap tie things.

As for the rest of Sully’s – well the nicest thing I can say is to quote a friend: “I think they are a potential candidate for the “Bar Rescue” TV show….” – indeed!!! The stage is minimal being raised about 6 inches off the floor at most. However there is a decent looking PA and enough lighting to look effective. The main area in front of the stage is populated by tables and chairs, so it was fairly clear that this was not a “stand at the front and mosh” sort of venue. In some ways this was welcome, as much of UJR’s music is perhaps better appreciated in a less frantic setting. The only other thing I will say about the venue is throughout the show the waitress was endlessly going to and fro delivering food and drinks to the tables, which to be honest got pretty distracting. (As a venue I’m going a anoint them with a score 4/10… there is a lot of potential, but currently there’s a lot more lacking or needing straightening out).

Venue notwithstanding, anticipation grew as activity started on stage, but wait a minute who is this young lad climbing on stage. Surely someone’s son brought to see the show? Huh? He seems to have a Les Paul strapped to his body? We’ll come back to this… because here’s Uli… And the journey began. Looking not more than a few days older than I remember him from the last time I saw him back in 1984 (UK, Leeds University), clutching a Dean Sky Guitar, UJR took us on a musical ride that is a rare thing these days – not a “smash your brains from your skull” assault, but something much closer to a spiritual connection with the ether; something that your soul can feed on. Rarely do I waffle on with such a ‘hippy’ vibe, but there were moments throughout the night where I completely forgot about the rest of the room, forgot about any distractions and just soaked up the stunning guitar playing being delivered with such fluid ease. Uli has such technique and touch that it doesn’t matter whether he has full on overdrive or the volume wound almost off on his guitar, it just speaks to you. If you asked the average rock music fan to list their top 10 guitarists, I suspect Uli might be overlooked by most, but that is a travesty. Those of you who are fans of Uli already understand what I mean and equally, any that have seen UJR on this tour will get it – this man is completely in control of his instrument.

It would be totally unfair to overlook the rest of the band performing with Uli, and I think it fair to say they were all exceptional. On vocals we had Henning Basse, who was a new face to me, previously with Metalium, a Power Metal band from Germany and I believe currently Sons Of Seasons who are a Symphonic Rock band. Henning sang the majority of the songs and did a great job. Uli handled a few songs on vocal himself. On bass guitar was Elliott Rubinson who I recognized from recent tours with Michael Schenker. Handing the keyboards was Paul Rahme who also did an exceptionally good job on backing vocals. On drums we were treated to Peter Holmes, who is perhaps better known as the drummer of Black’N’Blue, and did another solid job here.

Finally we have the young lad I referred to in the earlier paragraph on second guitar… so, intrigued by what I was seeing in front of me, I had to dig out the iPhone and do a little internet searching during the show (something I rarely do). The young man’s name is Ali Clinton and damn it, if he isn’t just 16 years old!!! Here he is basically keeping up with one of the world’s best guitarists. Awesome job. This young chap is from the UK, somewhere up north (I forget exactly where – perhaps it was just outside Liverpool). I spoke to him after the show and a nicer young man you’d be hard pushed to find I’d venture. What an amazing experience for him – and he was genuinely stunningly good, handling some seriously complex harmony guitar parts with apparent ease. Well done indeed!

As for the set – I didn’t even try to keep a full track listing but a sampling of what we were given included: All Night Long, Longing for Fire, Crying Days, Robot Man (!), In Trance, Catch Your Train, Dark Lady, Life’s Like A River, Drifting Sun, Yellow Raven, Sails Of Charon and All Along The Watchtower/Little Wing/Purple Haze. In total the set time ran near to 2.5 hours which still felt like it could have gone on longer easily.

Normally I close my reviews with a score, intended as a guide to help someone figure whether this is a band/artist worth going to see… if anyone passes on seeing UJR they need their head examined would really be my opinion.  My score is a straight 10/10.

Photo by: M.Waterman

Uli gives the wammy bar a work out

Photo by: M.Waterman

Classic Uli in the moment

Photo by: M.Waterman

This the young Ali Clinton – showing us that old tricks still live on…

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9 Responses to “Live Reviews – Uli Jon Roth – Sully’s Chantilly – Feb. 5th 2013”

  1. loved uli…seen him in nyc …..one of my top shows

  2. Dennis Eyre Says:

    great review

  3. david Naber Says:

    So glad I caught his tour coming back down from northern Cal too the southland too see this performance puts thee Artist too these Albums & songs that we have allways loved, it was incredible to see this live this really topped alot of performances for Me;;we as fans of the Band & him were very fortunate too have these shows!!!

  4. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. Many thanks

  5. Supercommando440 Says:

    When is the dbl live CD of this tour coming out?

  6. Supercommando440 Says:

    Replay here if u know. I’ll get an email. Cant wait to hear this. Until then, I’ll be cranking up Tokyo Tapes!

  7. Corey holland Says:

    This was a bucket list evening,UJR,7 feet away from us,playing Scorpion tunes never played before live,for 2/12 hours! Only regret is the lack of crowd in attendance for this living legend due to lack of promotion.I can die happy now!

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