Uli Jon Roth – Chester, The Live Rooms – 5 December 2017 Print E-mail
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Friday, 15 December 2017 04:50

When someone who has been a professional guitar player for 49 years is touring, it's usually a treat to see them live. Throw into the mix that he is performing an album in full, of arguably one of his previous band's finest hours and it becomes a must see. With this in mind, I head on down to Chester on a stormy night, for an evening of riffs and melodies.


Uli Jon Roth Chester header


There is one support band, namely The Clan. A trio of middle-aged gentleman take to the stage and start rolling off some quite familiar sounding tracks, as some songs feature what are at best heavy samples of other, well known, tracks. From the off, there are little quirks that make them likeable - little guitar flicks as they play, done in sync between the bassist/backing vocals and the lead guitar/main vocals. Their set is quite tight and technically proficient, with both old style rock 'n' roll and blues elements, so it's quite easy to look past the borrowing from other bands. Bits of stage patter include the likes of “we all sound better the more you drink”, and other, similar, self-deprecating remarks that add to their charm. Sampled songs include the likes of ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ and ‘Fade To Black’ as two of the more obvious ones. The sight of the two at the front bouncing at times makes for a bit more entertainment, meaning that by the end of their 50-minute long set, the half-capacity crowd is actually quite well warmed up.


On to the main act now and as always, Uli Jon Roth is in full control of everything that happens on stage. Coming on stage, he launches straight into ‘All Night Long’, spending the main part of the set playing ‘The Tokyo Tapes’ live album in full, albeit not in original order. Uli gets quickly into his repertoire of tricks himself, including playing a quite incredible solo, by solely holding the whammy bar and manipulating the guitar through that only - something that takes an extraordinary level of control and skill. Uli conducts the band, showing them when to play louder or softer, when to back off completely, as his solos take the emphasis and when to come in a bit stronger, which the band respond quickly to.



He says early on about how he had played Chester once before, 41 years ago, with The Scorpions, a fact that seems to go down well with the crowd. Getting to the end of the main part of his set, Uli makes a couple of alterations to his stack, adding a touch more volume as he takes the centre stage even further, as he shreds with a level of precision that many people half his age would struggle to attain, even with the quicker reflexes of youth. Uli now announces the end of the set, but stays on stage with the band, while the crowd shout for more, a smile on his face as he laps up all the attention.


In to the encores now, and Uli has to replace his bottom string, explaining that he had felt it slip during the set and lose half before it eventually snapped, it's time for one more Scorpions track, as Uli plays ‘Yellow Raven’, from the 1976 album ‘Virgin Killer’, before ending on two covers, namely ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and ‘Little Wing’, playing the Jimi Hendrix version of both. Not content with doing a mere cover, Uli adds in his own extra bits, taking the solos on to another level with his emphasis on how he wants to play the song, which makes for an interesting addition. He also performs vocals for the two covers, which he does not normally do, but is a clear mark of him paying homage to Jimi Hendrix, who he quite obviously has a lot of time for.


The promoter comes on stage to thank the crowd for coming along, asking Uli and the crowd if they want one more song. While the crowd replies in the affirmative, Uli looks at the band, who look back at him, while he shrugs before he makes a poor excuse of his amp no longer working. Overall, a very good gig, but a bit of a shame that he could not perform the extra song offered to him.


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