February 12, 2015
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Dave Gray
Photos by Andy Laudano
Uli Jon Roth
Uli Jon Roth Channels The Spirit Of Jimi Hendrix at Trees!
It has been 30 years since Germany's Uli Jon Roth has been to Dallas, Texas. The former Scorpions guitarist finally made his way back to the city and brought a lot of special guests with him. In support of the Extreme Guitar tour and the release of his "Scorpions Revisited" CD, Mr. Roth and friends gave the Trees' crowd more than they ever expected.
Opening with "All Night Long" and segueing into "The Sails of Charon," Uli performed tracks from the progressive years when he partnered with Rudolf Schenker as a member of the German metal band. Sporting a blue headband (with a feather dangling over his shoulder), and his "Sky Guitar" (with another feather dangling from the guitar headstock), he seemed to channel the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. Onstage it seemed as if he was riding on a magic carpet or an astral plane. Eyes closed, his fingers graced with unexplainable ease over the fret board and guitar's pickups. Despite the fact that some of the 90 plus minute set consisted of perhaps lesser known Scorpions tracks from the early seventies, there was never a dull moment.
He brought onstage with him a handful of notable musicians. With John West on vocals, David Klosinski providing excellent harmonies on rhythm guitar, Elliot "Dean" Rubinson (yes, the CEO of Dean Guitars) on bass, and Kofi Baker (yes, the son of Cream's Ginger Baker) on drums, and Allesandro Bertoni on keyboards, the talent was obvious tonight.
An acoustic number with a newly acquired Godin Multiac 7-string guitar was very cool. "In Trance" was also a crowd pleaser and the "Polar Nights" guitar solo was truly intense. Uli used his skills with the whammy bar and the Vibesware feedback intensifier, to produce some amazing audio effects. Twice during the show, and during a solo, I personally felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck, and felt flushed in the face as the sound vibrations bounced off the back of the club and back up on to the stage. I couldn't help to think of what the passers-by walking outside the venue might be thinking. "Is there a war raid going on in there?" "Are we being invaded by an alien force?" "WTH?"
He closed the set with another cool song, "Dark Lady" and the curtains closed, only to return to play two Jimi Hendrix numbers to end the night. "All Along the Watchtower" and "Little Wing" re-instilled into the audience that the Hendrix vibe lives deep within this humble guitarist. And with that, he closed his eyes, gently smiled and waved, and slowly walked off-stage.
But there was more. Opening the set for Uli was the super group Black Knights Rising. Featuring guitarist Craig Goldy (Dio, Giuffria), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio), the aforementioned John West (Royal Hunt), the aforementioned Elliot "Dean" Rubinson (Michael Schenker Group), and newly acquired (last night) Tim "Ripper" Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth), they performed hits from Deep Purple, Black Sabbath (Dio years), Ronnie James Dio, and Rainbow. With Craig Goldy interpolating and mastering most of the keyboard parts on guitar, and the duo of West and Owens sharing vocal duties, they performed a blistering hour-plus set that included tight transcriptions of "Burn," "Neon Knights," and "Death Alley Driver."
Honorable mention goes out to Canadian rockers Old James who thankfully warmed up the crowd on this chilly night.
If you like classic hard rock and roll, this was truly an amazing night. Don't get me wrong, I like the big shows, but seeing big name rock stars in a smaller venue like Dallas' Trees almost puts on you onstage with the artists and I think, as a paying customer, you get more bang for your buck by attending clubs where the sound is huge and on top of you and the musicians are approachable. Danke schön!