The band has gone through numerous personnel changes over the years, but the current lineup has been together for quite a while. They are founding members Phil Mogg (vocals) and Andy Parker (drums), classic-era Paul Raymond (guitars and keys), Vinnie Moore on lead guitar (who joined the band in 2003) and bassist Rob De Luca (who replaced Pete Way a few years back).
It’s astonishing to think that Phil Mogg and his band have been at the sharp end of British rock music for nearly half a century. So long in fact that you’d possibly forgive them for taking their foot off the gas a little in their live performances. However, as long as UFO are being driven along by a drummer as powerful as Andy Parker, there’s no fear of that ever happening. The man is a machine and a half!
First up was We Belong to the Night, a good old fashioned no-nonsense rocker from 1982’s Mechanix. And it was clear from that point on that despite Phil and Paul pushing 70 and Andy also in his 60’s, age was not going to be a barrier to producing properly good hard rock music. Three songs in and we got the first of three tracks from their new album, Run Boy Run. Now as good as that song was, and it has to be said that A Conspiracy of Stars is a belter of an album as a whole, the vast majority of their songs came from previous albums, Strangers in the Night in particular. I guess UFO is in a no-win scenario when it comes to compiling their setlist, since regardless of what they do, they can’t please everyone. There will be fans that will want to hear lots of their latest material while others want the classics. Personally I think they got the balance just about right.
Midway through the set came Venus, and this was – for me – UFO at their best. It has everything from thunderous drums, driving bass and searing guitar solos to subtle synths and acoustic guitars. It may be 20 years old, but it still sounds as good as anything out there today. A fantastic rendition of Only you Can Rock Me followed on before the band slowed things down a bit with an intense version of Burn Your House Down. As the end of the set approached, more of the classic era favourites were given a right good thrashing. Only You Can Rock Me, Cherry, Love to Love and Rock Bottom had the crowd bouncing – although not for very long because many of the fans ain’t as young as they used to be! 😉
No prizes for guessing what two songs formed the encore… Yep, it just had to be Doctor Doctor then Shoot Shoot to finish things off. Two classic rock songs rounding off an absolutely tremendous night of hard rock music.
I must admit to have been totally blown away by UFO. Yes, most of the band are old and no, they don’t run about the stage very much any more. But if the name of the game is making good music, then UFO are still right up there with the best live rock bands. If you have never been to one of their gigs, you really must go see them. Their current UK tour continues throughout the rest of April into the first week of May.