Uli Roth and Pallas Newcastle City Hall 21st May 1983
Uli Roth obviously has fond memories of Newcastle City Hall. When I last saw him in concert, at The Office in South Shields a year or so ago, the City Hall was facing possible closure, and Uli told us that we must not let it happen: “get a petition; do something, you can’t let it close, that hall is one of the most beautiful in your country”. Well Uli, we did. The City Hall gained a reprieve, and continues to host rock concerts. From the Newcastle Journal: “Newcastle’s under-threat City Hall has been saved from closure after the city council announced it would not axe 100% of its arts budget…Plans to remove the City Hall from the council’s books were met with strong opposition. Around 11,000 people, both online and on paper, signed a petition against the move, started by the North East Music History group.” Anyway, back to Uli Roth. Uli formed his band Electric Sun after leaving the Scorpions in the late ’70s. Uli is a charismatic and flamboyant character who developed his own guitar style. Technically excellent, and a massive influence on many of today’s players, he blends the blues with indian and classical influences, and this; coupled with showmanship and virtuosity, make him a unique guitar player. He is also massively influenced by Jimi Hendrix. This show at Newcastle City Hall was recorded and segments of it appear on the 2006 DVD release Historic Performances. I remember being totally stunned by his playing, and the epic nature of his songs. Support came from the excellent Pallas, who had just released their first single “Paris is Burning”. I picked up a copy of their fanzine “The Sentinel” (pictured here) at the concert. Pallas were one of the few bands flying the prog-rock flag in the early ’80s, when that particular genre had become very unfashionable in the wake of punk, and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.
Archive for the ‘Uli Jon Roth’ Category
Uli Roth and Pallas Newcastle City Hall 21st May 1983
Uli Jon Roth The Office South Shields 30 December 2012 (and 1983)
For my final gig of 2012 last night I went to see the legend that is Uli Jon Roth, ex-Scorpions, Hendrix aficionado, inventor of the Sky guitar, and exponent of neo-classical rock guitar. It was a real privilege to witness one of rock’s greatest guitarists so close up in such an intimate local venue. I arrived at the Office at 9am, just catching the end of support act Lovedrive’s (Scorpions tribute act) set. The gig was in the upstairs room of the venue, which is close to the centre of South Sheilds, and it was packed to the walls. The room holds 200 people and the gig was completely sold out. I made my way to the front to get a good view of the great man. Judging by the t-shirts, the crowd beside me were all Scorpions fans of many years. There was then a bit of a wait before Uli Jon Roth took to the stage to chants of “Uli! Uli! Uli!”. Within a few minutes he launched into All Along the Watchtower (ala Jimi Hendrix), and it was immediately apparent that this was going to some special concert. Many musician’s of Uli’s generation seem tired and have lost some of their spark, but not this guy. His playing was just amazing. His instrument for the evening was one of his custom Sky guitars, which is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, having additional frets going right up to the pick-ups, which allow Uli to get very high notes, and play his trademark riffs. Watchtower was followed by more Hendrix: If Six Were Nine, flowing straight into Little Wing. Just awesome; the 50 something guys at the front were saluting Uli and nodding to each other as if to say “This guy can still do it”. The rest of the set was largely Scorpions classics including The Sails of Charon; Life’s Like a River; We’ll Burn the Sky; and Fly to the Rainbow. There were other songs which were less familiar to me, but the crowd knew them all, singing along to every word. He also played Enola Gay (Hiroshima Today?) from his Electric Sun period. Vocal duties were handled by the bass player, who did a spectacular job reaching all the high notes, and singing sweetly during the ballad sections. The rest of Uli’s very tight, rocking band were a second guitarist, keyboard player and drummer. Uli told us that this was his first visit to South Shields but made reference to the fact that he had been to nearby Newcastle a few times, playing the City Hall in 1983, and 1985. He asked “How many of you were there?’ and a great roar came from the crowd. When I got home and checked my ticket stubs, I found that was at the 1983 City Hall gig. Is doesn’t seem almost 30 years since I last saw this guy in concert. Uli also commented on the rumours that the City Hall might be facing closure, and told us that we must not let it happen: “get a petition; do something, you can’t let it close, that hall is one of the most beautiful in your country”. Uli’s playing has developed over time, moving more towards classical music; however last night’s set was very much focussed towards his rockier side, and his years with the Scorpions. As I left I heard a guy say to his mate “He’s just phenomenal!” which just about summed it up. Everyone in The Office last night will have been blown away by the skill, passion and warmth of Uli Jon Roth’s performance. It certainly felt like I had witnessed something pretty special. There was talk on bringing him back again next year; I’m sure the place will be equally as packed if that happens.
PS Oh, and it was very LOUD down the front. It was good to go home with my ears ringing; it brought back happy memories. Luckily they’ve stopped ringing by this morning.
PPS Apologies for the very blurred picture, which I took on my iphone. One of my new years resolutions is to practice using the camera on my phone so that I can take better pictures (why does everyone around me seem to be taking great photos?).