Uli Roth and Black Knights Rising Concert Review, Houston, TX, February, 13, 2015
When I saw that the Extreme Guitar Tour was coming through Houston, on a weekend night no less, I had to make arrangements to go. It was a tough drive since the Alice Cooper after party from the night before gave me a bad case of rock and roll pneumonia. haha
Opening the show was a Canadian band called Old James.I couldn’t quite get a bead on them. While I could tell that they were all proficient musicians, nothing sounded congruent. No hooks. They covered Thin Lizzy’s Cold Sweat but I couldn’t tell what it was until the chorus. I heard a few other folks say the same thing.
Black Knights Rising (BKR) is a bit of a supergroup featuring Tim “Ripper” Owens (Winter’s Bane, Judas Priest, Iced Earth, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dio Disciples and many more), Craig Goldy (DIO, Giuffria, Rough Cutt), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, DIO, Rick Derringer), Elliott Rubison (Uli Roth, MSG, CEO of Dean Guitars) and sometimes John West (Uli Roth, Royal Hunt, Artension). Based on the BKR Facebook page, Bobby Rondinelli was slated to take over drums after February 9th. That didn’t happen. Either way, both Bobby and Vinny are both in The Book, so I was set either way. The band comes out and opens with Death Alley Driver by Rainbow and they sound great. This show was the final night of he tour. Everything played was either by Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath or DIO. John West came out and went back and forth vocally with Owens on Burn. They both sounded great! Highlight for me, though, was Stand Up and Shout. Vinny’s insane snare work always blew me away in that song and watching him that close live gave me a new appreciation for his playing. He’s still a beast. Goldy’s playing was spot on as well. Effortless player and I’m glad I finally got to see him live. Last time I saw Ripper live was on the Jugulator tour in Norfolk, VA.
Half of the crowd left after BKR. Seriously. Uli was up next and half of those folks left. I’m still shaking my head over that. His band is made up of John West, Elliott Rubison, Kofi Baker (son of Ginger Baker), David Klosinski (guitarist from one of the Sky Academy classes) and Allesandro Bertoni on keys. Uli opens with All Night Long then in to Sails of Charon. Holy crap. To finally see him playing these Scorpions classics live was a dream come true. His playing style is so fluid and relaxed. He almost looks bored up there. But even watching the old vids of Scorpions, he always has that look. Klosinski played rhythm guitar and did some harmony soloing with Uli and was spot on with it. How cool it must be to have Uli as a mentor. John West sounded great. There’s only one Klaus, and West wasn’t trying to imitate him. He was a great fit. Kofi’s drumming was great and you could tell that he and the band followed Uli’s every move. He directed some jams with the wave of a hand, a nod or just some quick eye contact. Seeing them play We’ll Burn the Sky and In Trance gave me goosebumps. Maybe even a little verklempt during Burn the Sky. I absolutely love that song. The final 3 songs were all Hendrix covers, which is not surprising. I’m not a Hendrix fan but respect his influence. He’s obviously very important to Uli. It was a great show.
After the show I got to meet Vinny and Goldy. They were both very inquisitive about the book. They signed on the DIO group photo that features both of them, so it was great that Vinny was there. I also broke my own “no selfie 2015” rule. Uli was available, too, but I had met him in 2000 and he signed the book back then. It was also getting late and I was dog tired. Great seeing some friends there as well.