Uli Jon Roth - The Gramercy Theater, New York City, New York, USA, April 23rd, 2019
Set 1: Sky Overture/Indian Dawn/Electric Sun/Sun In My Head/Why?/Don't Tell The Wind/Just Another Rainbow/I'll Be There/Icebreaker/Starlight/Enola Gay (Hiroshima Today?).
Set 2: Passage To India (Uli Solo)/Apache/We'll Burn The Sky/In Trance/Pictured Life/Catch Your Train/All Along The Watchtower/Yellow Raven/The Sails Of Charon.
When I learned of Uli Jon Roth’s plans to once again venture on to US shores, I checked every available website to find out when he would visit New York City. I have followed Uli’s career since his Scorpion days and although it had been a while since I had the pleasure of hearing Uli live; I did not want to miss him on this tour. Finally I saw a date scheduled at the Gramercy Theater and quickly made arrangements to be at the show.
Uli Jon Roth is a 'musician's musician', he has contributed to the neo classical metal movement and is also the founder of the Sky Academy which is an organization that offers an opportunity for aspiring musicians to master their trade. Roth’s signature Sky Guitars, designed by the guitarist, consist of extra frets which allow the guitars a wider range and the ability to emulate the higher end of string instruments.
While his audience consists of a variety of fans spanning several eras, he is also one of the most influential guitarists. Many well known musicians have cited Roth as an influence, as well as many of the younger generation. This was even more apparent during the show at the Gramercy. The front row was wall to wall musician types voicing their knowledge of guitar techniques… and me. What we all had in common was being awestruck by the gentleman on stage and his band.
Roth opened with the quintessential 'Sky Overture' followed by 'Indian Dawn' and 'Electric Sun' and eclectic selection from his Electric Sun albums, recorded between 1978 and 1986. The remainder of the band’s first set navigated through the 'Electric Sun' and a portion of the early Scorpions era (with more to come in the second set).
One of the highlights of Roth’s first set was a heartfelt tribute to his late brother Zeno and a performance of Zeno Roth’s beautifully written piece 'Don’t Tell The Wind'. I must confess I had not heard this song prior but was so moved by it, I made a mental note to get a copy of it.
After a short break, the band returned to the stage for the second set, which Roth explained would be a different performance style than the first set. When Uli took the stage, his first number was the solo instrumental 'Passage of India'. An elegant, bewitching performance that epitomises Roth’s prowess as a songwriter and musician.
'Apache' a well known cover by Jerry Lordon, seems to find its way into setlists including Roth’s but he made the song sound really cool. Uli’s second choice of a tribute number was 'All Along The Watchtower' written and performed by Bob Dylan and also performed, by Jimi Hendrix and on this night, quite brilliantly, by Uli Jon Roth.
The remainder of the second set went to the Roth era Scorpions albums which are my personal favorite Scorpions offerings. 'In Trance', 'Yellow Raven' and wrapping up with the intoxicating 'The Sails of Charon'.
While this article centres on Uli Jon Roth’s performance at The Gramercy Theater, we realised that one show wasn’t enough and decided to see the band perform again at the Newton Theater in New Jersey. I mention this show because we had the opportunity to meet Uli after the show and speak with him for a few minutes. Jimi Hendrix was a topic of conversation since I have a deep love for his music and Uli is well versed in everything Hendrix. However, we also took advantage of the chance to tell Uli what a brilliant and gracious person he is.
If you have never seen Uli Jon Roth perform live, whether guitar is your passion or you just want to be treated to a stellar performance, you need to make and effort to see this man. I certainly cannot wait until he returns.
By Dawn Belotti