UFO (Live)

At The O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., June 14, 2009

UFO are celebrating something of a landmark birthday this year. It is an incredible 40 years since their formation back in 1969. At a time when most people would be considering pottering around on their allotment or gazing at their retirement presentation clock, UFO are showing no signs of slowing down and certainly have no intention of heading out to pasture. Instead UFO have marked this impressive achievement with a brand new album, The Visitor and another gruelling tour.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy ride for UFO, who over the years have seen more members come and go than you’d care to mention and have a colourful and chequered history that is just crying out to be turned into a book which would make Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt look like Dora The Explorer.

UFOThe current band features original members Phil Mogg (vocals) and Andy Parker (drums) with long-time keyboard player/rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond who together form three-fifths of the classic Strangers in the Night line up. American hot shot guitarist Vinnie Moore and stand-in bassist Barry Sparks complete matters.

After the strains of The Sensational Alex Harvey band’s “Faith Healer” evaporates into the air, UFO kick off with “Save Me From Falling” from the new album before heading straight into “Daylight Goes To Town” from 2004’s You Are Here.

A casual Phil Mogg, dressed in a camouflage kilt, (yes, you read that right) was his usual self with his casual, dry wit and self depreciating banter adding to the fun of the show and for a guy in his 60s his voice held up pretty well throughout.

A cracking “Mother Mary” was the first of several from the Strangers in the Night set followed by “I’m a Loser” from the same album. Some fans have criticised the band for the over reliance on this material but when songs of the calibre of “Lights Out”, “Only You Can Rock Me”, “This Kids” and the thunderous “Love To Love” are featured on the album it would be criminal to overlook them.

UFOOver the course of the night UFO chucked in a couple of surprises with “Cherry” and “Ain’t No Baby” from Obsession being welcome additions to the set and the newbie “Hell Driver” added to the variety of the show.

Vinnie Moore surely had some of the biggest shoes in Rock to fill having to replace the enigmatic Michael Schenker and it has to be said that he has grown into this role so well over the years and has such a grasp of the UFO melody combined with the technical flair needed to pull off these songs and on “Rock Bottom” he pulls no punches. Moore has certainly stamped his own mark onto the classic material but has ensured the passion and identity of the originals is still present. It looks as though UFO have finally found the stability in the guitarist department that they have needed for years.

UFOUFO without original madcap bassist Pete Way is virtually unthinkable. A live show without his staggering and stumbling stage presence and his pure Rock’n’Roll attitude would surely have a big impact on the show. Way is currently on leave due to health problems and hopefully he’ll be back soon. Barry Sparks, who has played with UFO in The States when Way’s visa problems prevented him from touring, is an inspired choice. If you didn’t know any better you’d think Way had dyed his hair blonde as Spark’s moves and mannerisms fit the band perfectly. Sparks certainly doesn’t act like a shy retiring hired hand as he spent the night bounding around the stage in true UFO fashion making him a fitting stand in for Way.

UFOAs UFO close the night with, what else but, “Doctor Doctor” and “Shoot Shoot” it’s hard to see that they have been doing this for 40 years. They still have the energy and fire to deliver an exciting show at a time when most people are slowing down and UFO show no signs of letting up. On the strength of this performance there’s plenty of life left in them for a few more years yet.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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