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(Live Review) ULI JON ROTH - St. Charles, IL 4/19/24

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The Beard & Little Johnny


Greetings friends’ fans and followers. Tonight, the Beard and Little Johnny will be tackling show number #23 and band number #77 as we attend the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Illinois for guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth.

After a frustrating and ultimately fruitless back and forth with Little Johnny on why Uli is pronounced Ooo-lee, even though that is not how it is spelled, we got our drinks and found our seats. Having never seen Uli Jon Roth during his career in the Scorpions or with Electric Sun, this will be our first opportunity to witness this legendary guitarist who is cited as an influence by such stalwarts as Kirk Hammet, Yngwie Malmsteen, Hank Sherman, and Joe Stump. Roth has been touring behind his Interstellar Space Show.

      

Originally we were supposed to see this last year, but Roth’s illness postponed it until now. Although largely known today for his classical numbers and compositions, Roth has had a long and distinguished career first with the Scorpions (between 1973-79 after Michael Schenker left for UFO), and then with his act Electric Sun (between 1979-85) and finally his multiple solo and largely classical releases since then.

     

Roth generally produces a mix of guitar styles, ranging from classical to some of his biggest rock numbers, all played on his individually designed and fashioned brand of Sky Guitars (which are reportedly able to produce some of the best tones due to the up to thirty frets they have.)  In looking at the stage set up, I noticed Mr. Roth had ten different guitars up on stage and available including his nine-string acoustic model. There were also several lit candelabras and some religious iconography on the stage creating a more somber ambience for his first set.


Set One:

The first set was just Roth doing classical stuff including Mozart (Amadeus, Rondo Alla Turca & Queen of the Night) before sitting down with the aforementioned nine string acoustic guitar for a piece called "The Journey". "Child of the Thunder Mountain" would follow before Roth launched into a three-part Antonio Vivaldi opus including, "Le Quattro Stagion". 


This three-part piece showed such amazing guitar skills, that Little Johnny looked at me and asked, “Was that a trick Beard?” “Nope, that was really him playing all that.” Johnny shook his head and said, “Is he a Wizard?” “On those guitars, yes John. Yes he is. When Yngwie Malmsteen says “he” was influenced by you, that’s high praise.


This piece concluded set one after almost eighty minutes of playing time. There was then a thirty-minute intermission.


Set Two:

 For set two (and again remember Uli Jon Roth is 70), Mr. Roth had brought out a full band and proceeded to produce some rock numbers showing yet another level to his amazing and enduring skillset.

 

         

Pulling songs from both the Scorpions and Electric Sun, Roth thrilled the crowd with a rock set full of passion and crunch. Merging some shreds, some blues and some progressive guitar, Roth showed he is equally confident in any style. Scorpions hits included "All Night Long", "Longing for Fire", and "Sun in My Hand". A couple Electric Sun numbers ("Electric Sun" & "Land of Dawn") followed before closing with six more Scorpions songs including "We’ll Burn the Sky", "In Trance", "Fly to the Rainbow", "Pictured Life", "Catch your Train" and, finally, the one that pulled the standing ovation from the crowd, "The Sails of Charon" with its rapid fire arpeggios (which once again elicited a head shake from Little Johnny as Roth’s fingers still amazingly nimble for a man at seventy who has spent over half a century playing guitar danced over the strings almost without effort.)

     

Given that both sets stretched a combined two and a half hours of music, Uli Jon Roth gave us more than any other band/act has this year and yet never seemed even slightly winded. At the show’s conclusion (as Roth introduced the band for bows and waves), Little Johnny actually tipped his cap and applauded this 70-year-old magician on the guitar. The Beard had to give this act a 95/100 for its impressive display of prowess, virtuosity, and endurance.

 

    

This wrapped up show number #23, but it will only be a few days until we are right back out there again. Remember to stay tuned to your site for metal The Mighty Decibel where you can get Beard & Little Johnny reviews every Wednesday & Thursday. Keep checking out, sharing, and supporting our TikTok site at thebeard0728, or #thebeardandlittlejohnny and of course follow and friend us on Facebook at Mark McQueen.

    

Until next time, this is the Beard & Little Johnny saying thank you for your support, stay heavy and of course. ...

Horns Up!!!

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