The day prior, we got pummeled by a major snow storm which forced Uli to reschedule his Montreal show, but thankfully, he made it to Toronto for this night. This was only his second time on Canadian soil and was the first of a two night run at The Rockpile. The set kicked off at 10:45pm with the Scorpions rarity “All Night Long” featured on 1978’s ‘Tokyo Tapes’. Uli has assembled a unique touring band featuring singer Henning Basse, bassist Elliot “Dean” Rubinson, 16 year old guitarist Ali Clinton, drummer Peter Holmes and Corvin Bahn on keyboards. It’s funny as ex-Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker also had Elliot and Peter in his band at one point.
Fifteen minutes into the show, Uli addressed the crowd and said we were going to experience a different show than normally performed. 2013 marks the 40th Anniversary with his involvement with the Scorpions and tonight we were going to experience those early tracks from the band including some that have never been performed live until this tour. Roth played on the first five albums before departing in 1978. It was great to see several very young fans in the front row digging the music. Almost the entire two and a half hour set focused on the Scorpions material including the first song he wrote for the band called “Drifting Sun” for which he took over on lead vocals. He sang on a total of seven songs throughout the night. The band didn’t work off a set list and are known for changing it up every night. The challenge for Henning was to know when he would come in to sing as Uli would just play by feel and would solo until his heart was content. Improvisation seemed to be the theme of the night. There were extended band jams and solos all throughout. “I’ve Got To Be Free” featured the singer having fun with the room as he split the crowd in half for a friendly singing competition.
Uli left the stage for a quick break and it was time for Ali to step up front and center for a solo. Clinton is a child prodigy and I can’t imagine many teenagers could hold their own along side Roth. From time to time, Uli gave Ali the nod and they would play together up front. The encore break came at the two-hour mark after “Dark Lady” was performed and band introductions were made.
The band returned playing a couple more Scorpions songs and then it was time for some Jimi Hendrix classics with Uli on vocals. Starting with Bob Dylan’s original “All Along The Watchtower,” then “If 6 Was 9” and finally “Little Wing” bringing the night to a close. Every show on this tour is being recorded for an upcoming live release. I’ve never seen Uli perform before and not being a guitar player I was still in awe as a music fan. I’ve never seen anybody play guitar like that, I think he was channeling Hendrix himself at the end. He plays with such soul and his fretwork is beyond impressive. He played his signature Sky guitar the entire show and only used one pick from what I saw. After the performance he was available for fans that purchased merchandise at his table or you could have bought a separate meet and greet ticket.
All Night Long (Scorpions cover)
Longing For Fire (Scorpions cover)
Crying Days (Scorpions cover)
They Need A Million (Scorpions cover)
Life’s Like A River (Scorpions cover)
The Sails Of Charon (Scorpions cover)
Drifting Sun (Scorpions cover, Uli lead vocals)
Evening Wind (Scorpions cover)
Robot Man (Scorpions cover)
We’ll Burn The Sky (Scorpions cover)
In Trance (Scorpions cover)
I’ve Got To Be Free (Scorpions cover)
Hell Cat (Scorpions cover, Uli lead vocals)
Speedy’s Coming (Scorpions cover)
Fly To The Rainbow (Scorpions cover, Uli lead vocals)
Polar Nights (Scorpions cover, Uli lead vocals)
Dark Lady (Scorpions cover)
Pictured Life (Scorpions cover)
Catch Your Train (Scorpions cover)
All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover, Uli lead vocals)
If 6 Was 9 (Jimi Hendrix cover, Uli lead vocals)
Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix cover, Uli lead vocals)
All Photos by BackstageAxxess Correspondent Darren Eagles.
We would like to thank Jon Freeman of Freeman Promotions for the credentials so BackstageAxxess could review the show.