Rock and Blues Custom Bike Show,
23rd June 2001
Unless otherwise stated all photos
And so to the moment we had been waiting for.. Michael, Phil and Pete
on the same stage for the first time since that fateful Manchester
evening. I don't think the enormity of the occasion was really
appreciated by the vast majority of the audience, but the fact wasn't
lost on our small crowd at the front as they launched into Midnight
Train. Perhaps not the best song to start with given the audience, but
the performance was good. Phil was in fine voice (definitely over his
laryngitis it would seem ;-)) and Pete looked fit and well, all things
considered, sporting a slightly shorter haircut, shiny red
trousers and polka-dot shirt.
Throughout both UFO segments we also had the unusual treat of two bass
players, with Barry staying on stage and duetting with Pete.. must be
said with contrasting styles of playing!
Following this was Let It Roll, which
Phil claimed was five years old (!). This was certainly the
highlight of the 5 songs they played. Michael was obviously a little
worse for wear on stage, but the performance they were giving was
reminiscent of the show at Newcastle last year: not perfect, certainly
several mistakes, but a good band performance as long as you weren't
listening too carefully.
Ulis contribution in
particular was sublime, harmonising over Michaels riffs.. this was no
battle of egos, but mutual respect. On the G3 tour I got the
impression that Michael hated sharing the stage for the jam sessions
at the end of the shows.. but here it was certainly a different story
with some really nice touches from both guitar players throughout the
Next up an elongated Rock Bottom... with Uli and Michael taking turns
during the solo. Again, not a fantastic performance, but the night was
not about producing a vintage display.. tonight was about laying the
ghosts of Manchester to rest, just getting UFO back on stage together
again and performing. However, it must be said that on paper this could
have been an awesome moment, and it was a shame that the opportunity was
After Rock Bottom, Phil and Pete left the stage and Uli introduced the
next song "as a song Michael wrote when he was 15 years old", In
Search of Peace of Mind. A little disappointing, the song seemed to
drift rather aimlessly at times, but it was showing its age
Then Michael and Barry again left the stage to be replaced by Jack
Bruce.. for a wonderful trio of songs. Now before the show I was
thinking, ok, Jack Bruce, he's the bassist from Cream, but what did he
really do? Then the first song, Sunshine of Your Love, he starts to
sing and there's this sudden realisation - his voice is instantly
recognisable! Sunshine was followed by
White Room, and then Spoonful. Great segment.
Soon after it was time for UFO to reappear, but once again they were
not backstage, so while someone went to look for them there was some
more improvisation, with a little Rondo Alla Turca thrown
in. Eventually Phil, Pete and Michael did reappear, and they launched
into Lights Out followed by Doctor Doctor. As before, the performance
was not brilliant, but any patches were effortlessly covered up by
Uli, Phil sang his heart out and Pete continued to jump about the
stage in the way only he can. It was not the best they have played,
not by a long shot, and Michaels contribution was a little erratic,
but they were there.. together... playing and enjoying themselves. Given
recent events more than enough to go away happy with.
The show was due to finish with everybody back on stage for a jam...
but with only two minutes to a 'strict sound curfew' and only Uli left
on stage he started an unplanned improvisation. After a couple of
minutes, much to his surprise he was joined on-stage by
Bruce.. and so we were treated to a 20 minute jam (curfew conveniently
ignored) while fireworks went off in the background.. it was only when
Carl (production manager for the weekend) came on stage to tell Uli to
stop that it ended. A great end to a great day.
I could now go on to tell you about trying to get taxis... driving
about at 2 o'clock in the morning trying to track down a party.. and
so on and so forth.. but
I'll leave all that to another day!
So my take on the events? This was not a classic UFO performance, but
there were still enough Schenker flourishes thrown in coupled with
Ulis addition to the sound, Phils strong vocals and Pete being, well,
Pete, that made it a good band performance, and a worthwhile trip.
were glimpses of the old UFO to keep fans happy, and the majority of
the crowd will not have noticed many slip-ups during the songs.
But anyway, let's
face it, if UFO are never to play again, I would much rather have
this night as the last gig than the Manchester debacle. Whether it
was the last performance or not, only time will tell.. at least it now
gives something for the band to build on, but it can't happen
overnight. Tonight was a miracle... the impossible takes a little
So what next for UFO? Only time will tell..... but if history tells
us anything.. don't write them off just yet!
There was talk that the whole of Ulis set was to be recorded and
released as a live album.... I will update the pages with news of this
as and when anything happens!
And hey, if nothing else, Uli has made a considerable number of new
enriched our lives that little bit more.
Dave Wood 28/6/01.
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