70,000 Tons of Metal
A laid-back Uli Jon Roth stepping out into the sun aboard the 70000 Tons of Metal cruise ship was a palate cleanser after three blistering days of non-stop metal. On stage he was relaxed and comfortable, wearing black leather slip-on clogs, dark trousers, a black t-shirt and a white hoody. It was Roth’s tie-dyed headband that indicated he was about to take fans in a different direction that day.
Roth found fame and guitar hero status as one of the early members of the iconic German heavy metal band Scorpions. He was greatly influenced by and a devoted admirer of Jimi Hendrix, which shined through during his set, Uli and his band broke into a Hendrix cover version of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” early on. Roth stayed reasonably faithful to Hendrix’ playing style and tone while also performing vocal duties. Uli cranked out licks on his custom Dean Sky guitar which he personally designed and was accompanied on bass by Dean owner Elliott Rubinson.
I paused for a moment in the photo pit when he broke into the solo to soak it all in. The lighting rigs above, the scaffolding, the blue sky dotted with clouds, the fans behind the rail, and those behind the stage all flooded my senses as I listened to Roth play “Watchtower” and follow it up with “Little Wing”. Perhaps it is because I’m a huge Hendrix fan, or maybe because I am guitar playing, wanna-bee, but either way it was special to be able to watch a master perform with all his heart from just a few feet away. For me it was almost “Woodstockesque”, if such a word exists.
It was like one could sense Hendrix’ spirit playing through the talented fingers of Uli Jon Roth. Uli knows how to work the trem and his judicious use of effects were perfect for giving an authentic vibe. The crowd of listeners grew and grew as Roth’s set lured in the passerby with beautiful guitar playing that echoed through the passageways of the ship. Soon, the pool deck was crowded with listeners.
Testament front-man Chuck Billy leaned against anvil cases and assorted gear backstage watching one of his all time heroes perform. He had been there from the start, anxiously waiting for Roth to strap on his guitar. Thirty minutes into Roth’s set, Billy strode the five stairs leading to the stage and stood next to his musical idol. Thrash metal legend Chuck Billy heaped worshipful bowing upon Uli as Roth broke into the opening of the Scorpions “Sails of Charon”. Billy, no slouch on the air guitar, wore a wide blissful grin on his face and jammed along with his hero before chiming in on vocals.
It was just another incredible moment in rock ‘n’ roll history aboard a crazy heavy-metal cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
For more information about Uli Jon Roth please visit: http://www.ulijonroth.com