Uli Jon Roth. Jennifer Batten. Andy Timmons. Drop the name of any of these guitar gods and adjectives like virtuosic, spectacular and legend are sure to abound. The stars and planets have aligned now that Uli Jon Roth has chosen to tour with Batten and Timmons on “The Ultimate Guitar Experience” tour. Big words in a day when there are so many good guitarists out there. On the second night of their tour at The Plaza LIVE in Orlando, excitement and awe was palpable in the line waiting to see these three phenoms. What was waiting for us inside was beyond what any of us could have expected.
Andy Timmons opened the show to calls of “Danger, Danger” but instantly won the crowd with his creamy smooth blues playing style from his solo endeavors. This man is a player’s player. Every note dripping with feeling and emotion. From retrained blues to blistering runs; he can do it all with grace, enthusiasm and his ever-present smile. It is obvious that his love of music has not been hindered by time and cynicism. While Timmons’ recordings are nothing short of incredible, they do not even begin to give justice to seeing him play live.
After a short break, Jennifer Batten took the stage with a multitude of computers and effects next to a large screen. After some humorous banter with the crowd, Batten began to play over recorded backing tracks while showing her homemade videos about the songs she effortlessly played. Unconventional? Yes. Did it distract not having a live band on stage? Absolutely not! Her brilliant use of MIDI sequencing and two-handed playing technique was mesmerizing. Having her own visual cues about what she was playing was nothing short of genius and added to the aura surrounding this show. She ended her set with a history of electric guitar she dedicated to the “guitar nerds” in the audience. This included vignettes ranging from Chuck Berry and Dick Dale, to Clapton and Page, to Van Halen and Satriani and ended with her tracks from Michael Jackson’s “Bad”. Just stunning…
Anticipation for Uli Jon Roth was at a fever pitch when the lights went down shortly after Batten’s set. From stage left walks the legendary axe-man with his unique, signature Dean “Sky” guitar. He immediately takes the mic and informs the audience that, due to temporary visa issues with the government, his band has been detained to Canada and were unable to play. This left him with his drummer and bass player; four short of his full, touring band. Taking full advantage of the talent available with Timmons and Batten, Uli was able to continue the show unabated by “rehearsing the set in two hours” that afternoon with his tour mates. With Andy on rhythm guitar and Batten using her MIDI guitar to play the keyboard parts, Uli began his set. What followed was nothing short of other-worldly. Uli Jon Roth‘s playing was breath-taking! His song writing skills are second to none; creating an atmosphere of emotion and mind altering complexity. From classical seven string Flamenco pieces to screaming hard rock anthems, Uli missed not one single beat. There are no words strong enough to encompass the guitar playing and composing skills that this man has at his fingertips. Ultimate Guitar Experience became an understatement. Two hours of rehearsal with Timmons and Batten created THIS? Very, very special night indeed. One that will not easily be forgotten by any of us that were present for this brilliant, improvised performance.
For more on “The Ultimate Guitar Experience”, please go here!