Rock and Blues Custom Bike Show,


23rd June 2001

Page 2

Unless otherwise stated all photos (c) 2001

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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 song.

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 missed.

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 somewhat!

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. There 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 longer!

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 fans and enriched our lives that little bit more.

Dave Wood 28/6/01.


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