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Non-Prog Concert Reviews

Uli Jon Roth

Live in Chicago, IL, May 2006

Review by Greg Olma

It has been a long time since Uli Jon Roth played in Chicago with a full band; 21 years to be exact. Although he played on the same stage about 2 years ago, he was just accompanied by a keyboard player and some recorded pieces. On this tour, Uli brought with him not only a full band but also his whole multi-media presentation which included a giant video screen. Along for the ride was ex-Scorpions bassist Francis Buchholz. It's also been quite a while since the 2 of them stepped out on the same stage together.
Roth and his band started the show with some more recent compositions. "Sky Overture" and "Land Of Dawn" gave us an indication of where Uli is right now. I was surprised at the reaction that these relatively new tunes received. Aside from a few little bits of new material here and there, the rest of the set was a walk down memory lane. Launching into his "Electric Sun" phase, he played the title track off of Fire Wind. The next set of tunes started where he left off 21 years ago. "The Night The Master Comes"and "Why?" from Beyond The Astral Skies must have made some of the audience feel like they were back at the Metro in 1985. Well, no trip down Uli Jon Roth memory lane would be complete without some Scorpions tracks. "We'll Burn The Sky" and "I've Got To Be Free" were next and by this point Uli and his band could do no wrong. Die hard Scorpions fans have been waiting forever to hear these songs played live. Having Francis Buchholtz there also gave it an extra bit of authenticity. As part of the band, Uli brought with him a young lead singer who was able to sing the Klaus Meine songs really well. As a matter of fact, the whole band did a phenomenal job during the show.

"Cast Away Your Chains" was next and I find it odd that he played 2 songs off of Fire Wind and none off of Earthquake. I'm not complaining mind you, it was just an observation. During the whole show, the video screen behind the band was showing older Uli Jon Roth footage or different earthly visions like a sunset. "Hiroshima" showed us the horrors or war. While the music started off fairly calm, it exploded into sound and visions of nuclear war. They showed footage of the Enola Gay (the plane that dropped one of the atomic bombs on Japan-ed.), some nuclear explosions, and some of its victims. The visuals and the music were timed perfectly. More Scorpions came our way in the form of "Virgin Killer". I never thought I would see that played live.

The solo spots were up next and they were short and sweet. The keyboard player, drummer, and bassist each took some time to showcase their abilities. I wish more bands would take a page out of Uli's book. The solos were short and entertaining; and then they moved on. A bit of bass trouble led into an impromptu instrumental played by the keyboard player and Uli Jon Roth. Once the bass problems were fixed, it was back to the Scorpions. The one two punch of "Polar Nights" and "Dark Lady" finished off the set.
There was no way the band was not going to get an encore. They came back out and ripped through a couple of Scorpions classics; "Pictured Life" and "Catch Your Train." After leaving the stage for a second time, the Chicago crowd wanted more, so Uli Jon Roth and the boys came out one more time. Never one to hide his influences, Uli took over lead vocals for a few covers. They started off with "All Along The Watchtower" and finished off the covers with "Little Wing," They even managed to slip in half of "If 6 Was 9" between the two. The show finished up with a more recent instrumental. After more than 2 ½ hours, the show was over and the house lights came on. Uli Jon Roth came to Chicago and conquered it by showcasing a flawless (aside from the bass mishap) performance. I just hope it doesn't take him another 21 years to return.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at
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