In a rare turn of events, a world class musician and his accompanying band are playing a venue in Aberdeen, Scotland. Over the last few years, the local rock and metal fans have felt a little short changed as promoters have forgot we exist. To see former Scorpions guitarist and all round legend Uli Jon Roth playing our city was such a nice surprise.
The show was on a day with some of the worst weather this year and in a venue that has only just opened its doors to such events. The Assembly is a reasonably small venue just off of Union St. Aberdeen, one that I was actually a little impressed by. In recent years we have got the news that there is a new super arena being built just outside town, but no one thought to make sure there were smaller venues for bands to play. Knowing there is such a venue as The Assembly in town now, I am hopeful that we will see more big acts come to town.
The size of hall in this venue was not bad at all. It is easily bigger than Glasgow’s The Garage and Aberdeen’s The Lemon Tree. The stage itself is of reasonable size and could easily fit a lot of bands that only tour as far as the most southern cities of Scotland. The venue has a big PA system that produced a lot of volume, a nice clean sound and was actually a lot more powerful than I have felt from Glasgow’s venues in recent years.
To look at the hall, it looks run down and was extremely chilly thanks to the wonderful winter weather. But it is clearly a venue with a lot of potential and I would love to see some money put into the building to have to it spruced up and look more presentable. Hopefully in the near future Hamilton Hunter etc will start putting bands in this place like they do other small venues down south.
As for the nights performance, well to say that it was some world class stuff would be right on the money. The group played a vast array of early Scorpions material, the stuff that could be described as closer to the psychedelic rock of Jimi Hendrix (later covering Little Wing) than the big rock anthems of the 1980s. It was a great collection of tunes and fantastic to hear live due to Scorpions generally ignoring this material and not touring the UK.
Looking at Roth’s backing band, they are clearly a hand picked odd looking bunch of misfits, but these boys could play. Through out the set we were treated to moments where each member got to take the spot light with every single member delivering and then some. I unfortunately didn’t catch their names, but they deserve any praise thrown at them. I especially liked the bassist/guitarist/vocalist, a man who could play just as well as the rest of the band whilst singing with a clean very powerful voice. At times he did a great impression of Scorpions’ Klaus Meine, other times he did his own thing but each time he sounded wonderful and was definitely a great catch.
Uli Jon Roth himself came on stage looking like every bit the ageing hippy rockstar that we’ve come to expect and love. The man’s performance was impressive not just in terms of speed but emotional involvement. You could see that he loves to do what he does and he does it so well. Everything just came out of his guitar so effortless and natural, it didn’t matter if it was a big heavy guitar riff, a bluesy Hendrix jam or some lightning fast fret work. Of course that does not mean it was literally easy to do, his technical skill was through the roof and I personally was mighty impressed at just how good he truly is.
I have really wanted to see Uli Jon Roth live for a while now and the show at Aberdeen’s The Assembly most certainly didn’t disappoint. His set list was wall to wall with great songs, was played by a professional band of musicians and sounded great over all. Considering the asking price was a fifth of what Metallica asked for on their recent UK tour, I feel we got the better deal last night. Having the chance to watch and even meet this guitar legend in person was worth every penny.