Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theater, St Charles (US)

Uli Jon Roth / Vinnie Moore / BLACK KNIGHTS RISING / OLD JAMES

Date: 31st January, 2015
Venue: Arcada Theater
Ticket Price: $22 - $49 (€19 - €43)
Promoter: Oshows


MariaV: In hindsight, I think this tour was not well-represented by the name ‘Extreme Guitar Tour’ that many would misinterpret as watching guitarists shredding away without paying any attention to the music itself. Don’t get me wrong, I admire all those shredders out there but in some cases the music they play is not real music but just crowded guitar tabs that most of the times are humanly impossible to understand. But this had nothing to with guitarists that took over The Arcada Theater’s stage being (with order of appearance) Craig Goldy, Vinnie Moore and Uli Jon Roth. In the case these names don’t ring any DIO, UFO and SCORPIONS bells, then your Hard Rock even Metal education has some serious gaps or deficiencies.

There was a winter storm warning that Saturday night even though the weather didn’t look that intimidating, so taking the one-hour drive to St. Charles didn’t take too much thinking, especially if you add the fact that The Arcada Theater seemed like a great venue to host these musicians. Ok, the drive took more than expected, so OLD JAMES were already onstage the moment we found our seats inside the theater that was already filled with guitar and Hard Rock lovers. The Canadian band sounded and more importantly looked really pumped up being part of this tour and it didn’t take long to gather the first cheers of the night. Their ‘70s Hard Rock with strong modern finishing touches was quite good, although I found the frontman’s onstage presence as too Metal for this sound and I would bet that he is also part of a PANTERA cover band. Still, Brian’s vocal performance was top notch and especially his way of changing singing-pitch without losing power at all. OLD JAMES didn’t do the trick for me, but judging by the reaction from the rest of the theater’s occupants, I may have been part of the minority. I will give them a second chance though and check their studio recordings to get a fresh perspective.

DimK: There was a mix-up with the press announcement and in fact METAL KAOZ had reproduced the news that Joe Lynn Turner would be part of this show, so I was kind of disappointed that BLACK KNIGHTS RISING didn’t have him behind the mic. Fortunately, his ‘replacement’ was John West whom I knew from his ROYAL HUNT days and his work with ARTENSION. BLACK KNIGHTS RISING is just a covers band and under normal conditions I wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about it. You see, sometimes cover bands are just a painful reminders of how we miss a lineup (or an artist) that is no more and I really don’t think there is any way to reproduce the magic or even part of it of the original cuts. What I do appreciate in such occasions though is when the setlist doesn’t feature the usual-suspects songs and spices things a little bit. And this is how the BLACK KNIGHTS RISING show started, having RAINBOW’s “Death Valley Driver” as the opener, even though the Turner pain became slightly stronger... Vinnie Appice was behind the drum-kit and Elliott Dean Rubinson, wearing the enigmatic ‘Round One’ t-shirt, on bass, so performance-wise the track was absolutely fantastic placing on the spotlight John West who did the most to ease my pain. Of course, there can be no setlist from a cover band without the ‘must-haves’ songs, so the opener was followed by “Mod Rules” and “Burn”. Mr. Goldy nailed at ease the latter song’s solo and got a loud applause for making it look so damn easy (and it wouldn’t be the first one). The Dio-sung songs were “Man On The Silver Mountain” and “Stand Up And Shout” during which many left their seats and joined West for some nice singing-along. And just when everyone was warmed up it was time for a drum-solo... Ok I get it, sometimes there is a place for a drum solo to give everyone a chance to breathe but in this case it felt too early and took away some of the already gathered momentum. But it was nothing “Neon Knights” couldn’t fix so soon enough everyone was off their seats (remember, the venue is a theater) and stayed there because after a short guitar solo, “Mistreated” followed with John nailing the vocals at ease. Yeah, everything was in party mood and “Highway Star” put an end to this set on a high note. Without being something special, BLACK KNIGHTS RISING set the mood for some oldies while enticing the thirst for more Saturday-night beer drinking.

BLACK KNIGHTS RISING setlist:

01. “Death Valley Driver”
02. “Mob Rules”
03. “Burn”
04. “Man On The Silver Mountain”
05. “Stand Up And Shout”
06. Drum Solo
07. “Neon Knights”
08. “Mistreated”
09. “Highway Star”

BLACK KNIGHTS RISING

Black Knights Rising @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Knights Rising @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Knights Rising @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Knights Rising @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Knights Rising @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: Vinnie Moore was next and probably was the only one to fit under the ‘Extreme Guitar Tour’ banner because he appeared as a solo artist and not part of a group (although it would have been awesome to have UFO on the billing, right?). Anyway, Mr. Moore is not one of those typical guitarists who are just focused on hitting every single guitar string with sniper precision. Of course, he did that (I am in no position to judge his playing), but he also played with his heart, meaning that he was feeling the music and there were many times he had his eyes closed being lost into the six-string zone. By the way, Elliott Rubinson was again onstage with the only difference being his t-shirt that was reading ‘Round Two’ so it made perfectly sense where he was getting at...

After the second track, there was an issue with the drums (I guess Richie Monica was hitting the skins with more power than the drum-kit could handle), so Vinnie had to fill the gap. It’s funny to see a guitarist with so many years on his back feeling a little bit awkward during such mishaps and at the same time proves how down-to-earth some musicians are. So, he filled the blanks by talking about the upcoming UFO album and this was followed by a loud cheerso I guess he has to return to Arcada with that band, right? “What else should I promote?” he added but soon enough everything was back online and “Rain” restored the music balance. The sound was absolutely great and we enjoyed the slow tempo of this song where the guitar does all the talking, so really there is no need for lead vocals. “Let’s go back to my first record” he said and laid down the opening guitar phrases of the almost three-decades old track. There was a young guy in the crowd holding the vinyl edition of the “Mind’s Eye” album and Vinnie saw that and pointed to his guitar that had that album’s cover artwork. “I have one more for you but stick around for Ulihe said before dropping the curtain with the heavier and groovier “Meltdown” that left everyone smiling, wishing next time we will get a full UFO treatment.

Vinnie Moore setlist:

01. “Check It Out!”
02. “Daydream”
03. “The Maze”
04. “Rain”
05. “Hero Without Honor”
06. “Midnight Rain”
07. “Ridin' High”
08. “Meltdown”

Vinnie Moore

Vinnie Moore @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Vinnie Moore @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Vinnie Moore @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Vinnie Moore @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Vinnie Moore @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: The theater setting was perfect to host Mr. Roth having the perfect sound and volume to capture every little phrase his Sky Guitar would make. So, with this backup band featuring John West behind the mic, Elliott Rubinson wearing the ‘Round Three’ t-shirt and Kofi Baker behind the drums (son of the CREAM drummer, Ginger Baker), Uli showed up onstage bringing along his non-fading ‘70s aura. Each and every time I see him onstage I have the same feeling that I’m walking through a time portal revisiting the ‘70s, and really, there are no musicians out there who can do that. Yeah, the moment he hit the guitar strings playing the opening rhythm of “All Night Long”, time and space became one. I already knew that John West is a great singer but what I didn’t know was how awesome he would sound on the SCORPIONS songs. Oh my, he nailed the vocals on the setlist opener and then did amazing on the fantastic “The Sails Of Charon” that came after a short Good evening, St Charles” from the guitar magician before setting the tempo for some clapping along. It was time for some tremolo action and another oldie from the SCORPIONS days; the bluesy “Sun In My Hand” kept the time portal open and later on, let the clean guitar arpeggios of “We’ll Burn The Sky” guide us in higher and multiple dimensions. Did I mention how awesome John West sound in these oldies?

“In Trance” came to seal the deal and keep the party mood going, so as you can imagine, everyone was off their seats although it was getting late - at least for the families with small kids. Well, at least some of them were sleeping and I am sure their dreams were ‘70s-colored because “In Trance” and “Fly To The Rainbow” did this for us. And yes, there was loud singing along during “In Trance” so everything sounded and looked awesome. It’s amazing watching Uli play and do all this hand gestures like some magician manipulating the spirits, and honestly, sometimes I think that if he'd take both hands off his guitar, the strings would continue to play out of respect... It goes without saying that his guitar tone and sound clarity are simply amazing, especially when there is no distortion involved.

The SCORPIONS era had the lion’s share of the setlist and I am sure no one complained about this, especially with the faster “Dark Lady” that to my surprise was the last song of the night... “what? Is it possible for Uli to play so little?” I started thinking having as a point of reference his previous show in Chicago that lasted over than two and a half hours (and he was not feeling very well that night). And to make things worse, the lights went on and most of the people started leaving; you see, when the lights are on, the mood to chant “one more song” gets killed on the spot. But we didn’t move an inch and I am glad we didn’t because one of the members of the crew rushed onstage to ask the remaining people if they wanted more. I am guessing this was some short of miscommunication, so whoever was not already out of the venue returned for more ‘60s Rock. And so, Uli returned with “All Along The Watchtower” that came out perfect, even though I think Uli’s voice was kind of harsh, but who can blame him with such low temperatures and low humidity levels? The set-closer was the relaxed “Little Wing” that brought more from the ‘70s ‘flower-power’ aura along, at least for seven more minutes because this was truly the last one.

Thinking again, I understand why Uli didn’t play more; having three more acts on the billing, the time duration of the show would be too much for some and I think it would draw some of the spotlight the other two guitarists deserve. No matter what, this is a solid billing, so if you got the chance to be there and leave all your troubles outside the venue, you know what I’m talking about, because when Uli plays, many mind doors open. The only downside that is not directly related with the show was the snow storm that eventually hit the area and made the drive-back home a long and kind of stressful, but then, we had more time to talk about the ULI EXPERIENCE.

Uli Jon Roth setlist:

01. “All Night Long”
02. “The Sails Of Charon”
03. “Sun In My Hand”
04. “We'll Burn The Sky”
05. “In Trance”
06. “Rainbow Dream Prelude”
07. “Fly To The Rainbow”
08. “Polar Nights”
09. “Dark Lady”
10. “All Along The Watchtower”
11. “Little Wing”

Uli Jon Roth

Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Uli Jon Roth @ Arcada Theatre, St Charles (US) (photo by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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