Uli Jon Roth's Southland debut on Tuesday at Fender's Ballroom in Long Beach had been billed as "long awaited." After the show, the term should be revised to simply "a long wait." For starters, the veteran guitar hero and his band, Electric Sun, were still running through their sound check 45 minutes after the scheduled 8 p.m. showtime. Later in the evening, Roth further tested the crowd's patience with an 80-minute delay before finally taking the stage.
All of this waiting might have seemed less irritating, maybe even justified, if Roth and crew had managed to turn in a first-rate performance. No such luck. For the bulk of the show, the former member of German heavy-metal group the Scorpions staked out a time-warped musical territory somewhere between overwrought, moody blues and the Moody Blues.
Anchored by the powerhouse pounding of original Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker, Electric Sun erected majestic soundscapes that Roth carved up with his incisive riffing. Even the few fresh, melodious passages on the new "Beyond the Astral Skies" album were transformed into "Look Ma, no taste" instrumental overkill. A case of too much, too late.
Roth and Electric Sun play the Country Club on Friday.