Blimey, it might be their 50th anniversary but it’s also my 40th since I last saw them in Leicester in 1979. Who would have thought that we’d both still be going!
Over the years the band have had their highs/lows, endured the trials/tribulations of the business and now we are at the journeys end. Mogg turns 71 this April (2019) so you can kind of understand why after 50 years wearing the R’n’R badge of honour with pride it’s time to call it a day. So, all that remains is to make sure that they finish off their long illustrious career with a memorable bang!
I knew it was going to be a great night when the pub bell chimed last orders the band slowly emerged one by one to the dulcet tones of ‘Faith Healer’ from the mighty SAHB. Alas the opener ‘Let It Roll’ was somewhat marred by the dodgy feedback and bad mixing from the desk, however this was swiftly rectified and for the rest of the 90min show Phil vocals were as blindingly good as ever was. He might be 71 but he can still belt them out!
Phil, dressed all in black with waist coat, braces and a cool studded belt was on top banter form in-between songs. A real wag, taking the piss out of the band, himself and the audience and having a thoroughly good time. For example: He commented that while he had hair he couldn’t see the battle scars on his now bald head from Pete Way, a couple of staircases and his 2nd wife. Or when introducing ‘Cherry’ a song especially for the drummer Andy Parker about his Las Vegas trip with a pole dancer, broken heart and a dose of the clap!
The Cambridge Junction looked pretty much full, with a crowd of rockers of a certain age 😊 (plus assorted kids, including Phil’s 4 year old granddaughter perched on her mums shoulders) who were ecstatic to see their teen hero’s rocking out for the very last time. Rapturous applause for the first few numbers then the volume went up to 11 with a rollicking ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Only You Can Rock Me’ singalong. The party was now in full swing. So, time for Phil and the boys to slow it down with ‘Baby Blue’ which showcased his powerful vocals to great effect.
I suppose now’s the time to mention the band. UFO are: Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond (keyboards/guitar), Andy Parker (drums), Vinnie Moore (lead guitar) and Rob De Luca (bass). Phil, Andy and Paul are the old guard harping back to the beginnings of the band with Vinnie and Rob both joining this century. I’m gonna start with Rob as he was in front of me. Dressed in the height of early 70’s hippie fashion with a tie dye velvet jacket, striped bell bottom trousers and long tussling hair – he reminded me of a refugee from the Chris Robinson band! Excellent bass playing throughout, constantly with a smile on his face and plenty of lead guitar type poses and much moving about on stage. Now Vinnie can most certainly play guitar, whether it’s on his head or in the usual place this man can solo and riff with the best of them. The songs tonight showcased his talent to its fullest especially on the 4-5 min solo on ‘Rock Bottom’. Paul, the consummate looking old rock ‘n’ roller – great haircut by the way – switched between keyboards and guitar with ease adding the layered melodic sound which gives their hard rock sound a softer edge. And let’s not forget Andy hidden behind the drum kit thrashing away with the back beat and holding everyone together. UFO are a band, with all parts contributing with equal measure and they have ensured the legacy – it’s a pity it’s the end of the road – but all good things come to an end!
UFO set list I think (click on links to watch the videos in glorious ultra 4k)
- Let It Roll – (Force It, 1975)
- Messiah of Love – (A Conspiracy of Stars, 2015)
- We Belong to the Night – (Mechanix, 1982)
- Ain’t No Baby – (Obsession, 1978)
- Lights Out – (Lights Out, 1977)
- Baby Blue – (You Are Here, 2004)
- Only You Can Rock Me – (Obsession, 1978)
- Burn Your House Down – (Seven Deadly, 2012)
- Cherry – (Obsession, 1978)
- Love to Love – (Strangers in the Night, 1979)
- Makin’ Moves – (The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent, 1981)
- Too Hot to Handle – (Lights Out, 1977)
- Rock Bottom – (Phenomenon, 1974)
- Doctor Doctor – (Phenomenon, 1974)
- Shoot Shoot – (Force It, 1975)
Given it’s the final tour, they played a good mixed set of old classics and new songs such as ‘Burn Your House Down’ and ‘Messiah of Love’ from 2012 and 2015 respectively, proving that they still made great albums up to the end. The band certainly rolled back through the years.
After the extended ‘Rock Bottom’ the band leaves the stage to rapturous applause and adulation. Much hollering, clapping and chants of “UFO, UFO” bring the band back on stage with the mighty and ubiquitous ‘Doctor, Doctor’ – I was hoping that Iron Maiden might come on after the song – 😊 😊. And the final song was ‘Shoot Shoot’ which left a warm glow in the hearts of the delighted crowd – they absolutely went out in style, both band and crowd loving every minute.
Over the year’s UFO achieved notoriety and success in equal measure and they are definitely one of the UK’s great rock institutions. After all, if their music is good enough for Iron Maiden to open up with then job done! Thank you for the music and the good times Phil and enjoy your retirement! And good luck to the rest of the band whatever you go on to do.
The support act was American Tara Lynch (who that?, ed). She plays a mean guitar, wonder she’s related to Vinnie 😊. She did a 45 min, mainly guitar-based set which highlighted her technical skills, with a few songs having vocals on them. Obviously, a talented lass as she writes her own stuff and is a real guitar virtuoso diva. She looked like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Rosanne Barr – be afraid!
Check them out via this link: Tara Lynch – Unbreakable.
Marko – 23 March 2019
Post script – Alas Paul Raymond died at the age of 73 just eight days after UFO played their final UK show at London’s Forum. RIP Paul..