Long-time UFO fan Ian Murtagh headed to Newcastle Academy to watch the band for the very last time this week. Here’s his verdict:
Phil Mogg stood just in front of long-time pal Andy Parker’s drumkit looking smug and satisfied.
And why not?
It’s almost Last Orders and the legendary UFO frontman is still going strong.
So too are his band with guitarist Vinnie Moore (who joined in 2003) and bassist Rob De Luca (2008) joining stalwarts Paul Raymond, Parker and Mogg in the most stable line-up of the band’s existence.
For those of us who were introduced to UFO early on, Michael Schenker‘s clean and distinctive licks will always be missed but Moore is an outstanding technician, whose fretwork, particularly on songs such as Love To Love and Rock Bottom, earns him a place in rock music’s premier league.
The Academy was sold out for UFO’s last visit to Newcastle and it’s safe to say they went out on a massive high.
Having first seen them at the City Hall in 1980 on the No Place To Run Tour – Paul Chapman having just replaced Schenker – it’s difficult to rank this one in relation to the 20 or so times I’ve previously seen them.
There have been a couple of stinkers but countless classic concerts. And this comfortably fell into the latter category.
As ever Strangers In The Night, regarded as one of the finest-ever live albums, formed the nucleus of their set.
Some fans claim UFO are too conservative with their selections yet SITN is such an integral part of their very existence that there’s inevitable disappointment at the songs left out.
And so there was no Natural Thing, This Kids or Let It Roll but the choice of replacements certainly filled the void.
Of their newer material (ie. the Moore years), Baby Blue was the pick but personal highlights were Cherry, which appeared on a remastered version of SITN but not the original, and Venus from the excellent Walk On Water.
Mogg’s voice remains in excellent order and so too does his banter. There was no grandstanding farewell from the vocalist – instead a steady stream of whimsical comments.
And the fact he didn’t introduce the band can be forgiven because you felt everyone present knew them so well anyway.
After closing with the inimitable Rock Bottom, UFO came back out for the last time with final blasts of Doctor Doctor and Shoot Shoot.
And so the Last Orders gig was over. It was time to hit the bar and toast one of classic rock’s greatest ever bands.
Images By Adam Kennedy