Uli Jon Roth is by no means a stranger to our little seaside town of South Shields.
Maybe it was the news of the new mulit-million pound face lift to the local Market Place and its brand new library, designed in the shape of an open book, or maybe it was the completion of the entire seaside front, including the most recent transformation of a small Roman styled viewing area with underground conveniences, into an all glass, ship-shaped seafood restaurant, or was it just the idyllic sandy coastal walks and the local wild life, but how would we know?
Well, to surprise us all, Uli would tell us this in his own humorous way towards the end of the show lol… 😉
Having played on two previous occasions at a local music venue known by two names, “The Office” and “The Queen Vic”, or as the locals call it, “The Vic” and going by past events, the one main piece of advice that was circulating round as fast as ticket sales we selling for this gig was, “Take ear plugs, Uli doesn’t just like it loud, …he likes it really loud”.
Ironically, the first time Uli played South Shields, he played upstairs in a concert room and was supported by the North East’s very own Scorpions Tribute band, “Lovedrive” and much to the bands joy, at the end of his set, he welcomed the band back up on stage to join him for a rousing rendition of “Speedy’s Coming”.
Adding a further twist to this tale, Phil, the lead singer / lead guitarist from tonights support band “The Force”, and tonights lighting and sound engineer Colin, are in fact both members of that Scorpions Tribute band and huge fan’s of Uli and the Scorpions.
Second time back in Shields, this time Uli played the downstairs bar area, still with a good sized stage but the venue was more compact and narrower due to quite a long bar …and hell, was it loud!!!
Tonights show was upstairs in a fairly large typical Working Man’s Club concert room known to all the South Shields folk as “The Unionist”, which is more famous for its cheap drinks and halftime Bingo, than International musicians and hoards of rock fans gathering to see the legendary guitar virtuoso that is Uli, play many familiar and famous tracks, coming from the Scorpions Tokyo Tapes era, this being the theme for Uli’s Tour… “Tokyo Tapes – Revisited“.
Parking the car on the main road, about two hundreds yards away, I could already hear the openning track of the support band and quickly checked my inside jacket pocket for ear plugs before making my way inside and upstairs to a very full house.
Uli came to the North East of England armed and ready with a line up of top quality musicians from Europe, the drummer, Richard Kirk, being the only English guy in the band.
The opening track was “All Night Long” and first off, Niklas Turmann, the lead singer and one of two guitarist for Uli’ s Tour, was one of the top surprises of the night.
A professional musician and excellent guitarist in his own right but it was his voice that had ears and eyes opening wide from the start.
At sound check, he sang and that was it, nothing to report there.
Once on stage though, it was a different story; he opened up and instantly showed his vocal power and tonal control with many of my friends heads turning in surprise, signalling with their raised pint glasses to some of their other friends, “Yup, he’s good, very good”.
Second guitarist, David Klosinski had a style very much of a player with feel and emotion, reminding me right away of Gary Moore and Blackmore with modern twists of Zappa and Steve Vai thrown in when required.
A superb musician of Polish origin and with him only being born in 1985, he was very much the baby of the band but as guitar playing goes, Klosinski was up there with the best in feel, style and intricate playing. David Klosinski’s new CD is called “Electric City” and is an all instrumental, melodic & lead guitar powerhouse of tracks that will take you on a road trip to places only the best would want to go.
“Longing For Fire”, followed by “Sails Of Charon”, lead nicely into the awesome track, “We’ll Burn The Sky”.
The entire show was recorded on video with stage lighting and live audio mixing by Bolt Productions with excellent post work being carried out by South Shield’s very own Sadge with multi-track audio mixing and mastering, Uli being so pleased, he has authorised two video tracks to be released so far.
On Keyboards was Niklas’ long time band member, Corvin Bahn who instantly reminded me of Nightwish’s bassist, Marco Hietala… with his very long platted goatee and even longer bond hair, but throwing in that Hammond Organ sound, you can’t help think that the Deep Purple / Blackmore influence was there…
Hammond Organ? Deep Purple? Goes without saying really.
With Uli’s superb guitar skills and having two more excellent and very talented lead guitarists with him on the tour, the evening was ablaze with some stunning triple guitar work, at times, all three playing at their most proficient, complimenting each other perfectly, note for note with occasional triple layered lead harmonies.
With “In Trance”, “Fly To The Rainbow” and “Pictured Life” being belted out one after the other, it really was a blast form the past and one the crowd very much revelled in with many of the fans there remembering Tokyo Tapes’ arrival in the rock music scene, back in 1978 that stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Lizzy’s, “Live and Dangerous” double LP and Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush – Live.
Bassist, Nico Deppisch, is another member of Crystal Breed and an excellent bass player that didn’t just provided that solid and steady usual bass backing to the guitars, but delivered, intricate lead styled runs too, that followed all the guitar lines nicely, and precisely.
“Catch Your Train”, “Dark Lady” and “Yellow Raven” ended the journey down memory lane and as Uli signalled the keyboard player with a cheeky little smile and a wave of his hand that kinda said, “Hit it!”, he got him to play a small pre-recording of loud, crashing waves with that ever-so familiar shrieking of seagulls soaring over the coast and cliffs some little seaside town, not just any town, …but our town, which had everyone laughing and smiling – and that was Uli’s little humorous thank you to South Shields and its hardcore music fans 🙂
Uli Jon Roth’s live show was recorded at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo on the 2nd of December 2016 and released through UDR Music, titled, Tokyo Tapes Revisited – Live In Japan and with so many Scorpions tracks that everyone knew, it was guaranteed to be a great success for rock n blues at the Unionist.
With “All Along The Watchtower” thrown in as the final song of the evening, it was then time to meet and greet the fans.
Reviewed By Paul Kevin
Photography By Paul Kevin
Tokyo Tapes Revisited – Live In Japan is available in four different formats.
BluRay Digipak: Video & audio recording of the Tokyo concert in a BluRay digipak containing one BluRay videodisc and two audio CDs.
DVD Digipak: The same as above, only in a DVD digipak.
Digital Download: A digital audio copy of the Tokyo concert.
A Super Deluxe Boxset, limited to 800 copies:
Having checked out “Crystal Breed” and the track, “The Brain Train” with its blocky, Super Mario styled graphics, one can hardly miss the Frank Zappa influence in this song and the band and when one of the animated characters in the video has a very comical look of Dwezil Zappa… you have to ask, “Coincidence”?
I think not 😉
If you like Genesis, Pink Floyd and Zappa themed 70’s Prog Rock, mixed with RUSH styled technical precision in tracks that can last up to 10 minutes, Crystal Breed are the band for you.
But hey? What can I say about the man himself that has not been said before?
Well? …I can say this:
Uli Jon Roth is the only guitarist in the world, who can hang three feathers of his machine heads, walkout on stage in a blazing red tassel jacket with matching bandana and still hold the title of “Supreme guitar rock God”.
Track Listing was:
All Night Long
Longing For Fire
Sails Of Charon
We’ll Burn The Sky
In Trance (Acoustic Solo / Acoustic Duo)
Fly To The Rainbow
Catch Your Train
All Along The Watchtower.
We’ll Burn The Sky 4th May 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uz9tyP93k