I am very much into my hard rock bands but I am not big on guitarists as a rule. Last night at The Railway, Ipswich. I got to see someone that I figure is in my top 5 of guitarist that I just love to hear playing Uli Roth. (Others that spring to mind are Carlos Santana, Victor Smolski, Steve Morse, Tino Troy)
I saw Uli was going to play Ipswich about a month ago and even though I am not sure about all of his solo work I had to go along. I wasn’t sure what he would play and boy was I in for a treat.
He came on about 9.15 and played a set of about 50 minutes. The set was an interesting mix of music that he likes (I can’t think why else he did Deep Purple’s Mistreated), Hendrix (who was always his inspiration, Electric Sun (his 80’s band), Scorpions (the main reason I knew of him) and an Ian Gillan track I didn’t realise he had played on.
I just loved watching his fingers move and the passion with which he plays. I was very satisfied.
Then at 10.30 he returned for a second set. This mainly consisted of “Tokyo Tapes” era Scorpions tracks. I was in heaven. I only appreciated who Uli was when I saw him on a German Hendrix tribute and loved his playing. It made me realise what had happened in the Scorpions. I love most eras of the Scorpions except the 80’s albums they are most liked for (Lovedrive and Blackout in particular leave me cold). For me they become a typical rock band and live their set never included much from my favourite era. I assume the reason is Uli created much of the sound of the early Scorpions and his replacements had different styles. Being in Ipswich last night was like seeing Scorpions as I had always wanted them to be. The sound from my position directly in front of Uli was dreadful. I couldn’t hear the vocals but I didn’t care much as I was able to add them inside my head. More importantly though I was just lost in Uli’s playing. My recent album experience of him was that he had moved into playing the upper range of his guitar but last night he played the full range which meant he was down in the lower registers again and I was hearing him as I loved him.
I have had “Tokyo Tapes” since 1980/81 and my favourite track is “Fly To The Rainbow”. We didn’t get a full version of it last night but we got the bit that for three decades I have wanted to see.
The track starts as normal and then going into a quiet section with Uli Vocal and great feeling on the guitar. This is where we started. It then builds up and ends in a great feedback solo. Over the years I have played it loud so many times. It always moves me so to see it live and be stood just 2 feet away from the action I couldn’t have asked for more. It was fascinating seeing how it was done.
I felt the crowd was a bit disappointing in numbers but someone associated with Uli said he wants to get more regular UK gigs going as he is just so passionate about playing. I hope he will make it back into area again soon.
Uli didn’t leave the stage until about 11.45. He was really accommodating and friendly on and off stage. A really great night
Update: As I wrote this I had a sense that I had missed any important guitarist but I couldn’t place who. It was Tony Iommi. I have always loved his solos. Especially on the likes of my favourite album “Technical Ecstasy”.
It also occurred to me that I totally focused my review on Uli and failed to say anything about the band. It is perhaps hard for me to comment on them as I was so lost in Uli but I think I should give special praise to the Bass Player/Singer. I would love to have heard his vocals clearly as I think he had a great voice and an interesting interpretation. He is certainly a fun guy to watch. I was also impressed buy the second guitarist who I believe was only 16. On twin guitar parts he seemed very in sync with Uli and clearly has a good command of his instrument. It would have been nice to hear who these people were but sadly I couldn’t.