Concert Reviews

UFO (Manchester 2019) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 30, 2019    
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UFO - O2 Ritz, Manchester (UK) - 16 March 2019

Ted Sares writes about boxing and is well known for it. What is less known is that he competes in weightlifting competitions. He's an octogenarian. Phil Mogg is 72 and while he's not about to enter any tough-man competitions yet, he's had 50 years of the life with UFO. Falling outs, fights, fantastic sales, frightening lack of interest. Over the past few years, UFO have achieved stability and success, which must be pleasing, a good time to bow out.

Because that's what Phil is doing. This is 'Last Orders' and its less of a sadness, more of a sold-out wake tonight. There are 40th birthday balloons tied stage right by Vinnie Moore, it's not his birthday, he shows Phil who politely tells him what he can do with them. And so we settle in, settle it is because this band know exactly how to deliver, sleek and fun with a swagger; 'Mother Mary' is someone you'd watch with awe, the sound is clear and full, fuller than Phil's belly at least, he's whippet thin and shows his tiredness, to be expected of course, but the voice is all there, the mic stand juggling still present and he has such a disarming manner, checking the set list with pantomimic surreptitiousness before announcing songs, telling us "this one was on... an album", that we can't help but love him.

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We all want to enjoy, to be transported; we are. Singing along, dancing in our oddly abandoned ways, as this great band rip through 'Ain't No Baby', 'Lights Out' (sung-along early as usual), really hammering 'Only You Can Rock Me', a song that can take it and stands out tonight, getting sassy during 'Too Hot To Handle'. Paul Raymond is impassive with occasional smiles, Andy Parker rock solid on the drums, Rob De Luca plays that bass to us and Vinnie Moore, who could never fill Schenker's shoes but never tried to, flashy and fine, bringing appreciative looks from Phil, also bringing stability to a band who desperately needed it.

They end with a showcase 'Rock Bottom', a long solo from Moore which doesn't bore and a flourish to end. Then back with, of course, 'Shoot Shoot' sleek and superb, then 'Doctor Doctor', a real audience participation to end, just the way it should be. Phil leaves quickly, the goodbyes left to Parker, but then he never wore his frontman role with arrogance, always hanging back mid stage, making his forays to the front all the more special. He made it look easy, when we know it isn't, particularly in UFO; as he says, you get a gold watch for 50 years, but in this band, you have to buy your own. Mogg had toughness and a sweetness few frontmen will ever match; Devaststed Debbie and Sad Steve will miss him.

But what a way to sign off...

Review by Steve Swift

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