UFO at the Apollo, Manchester, 24th November 2000

The last time I saw UFO play Manchester Apollo was in February 1998. That was a night to remember. The reasons being witnessing an outstanding act perform classic songs and new material which in my opinion rivaled previous best.

Last night at Manchester (24/11/00) was also a night to remember. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

Something was up from the off. As band members gathered on stage they had to wait whilst Michael calmly took a few more sips of his beer (yes beer). They opened with Love is Forever as Michael gave a promising start with some slide guitar. Michael looked ROUGH. Shorts, black vest, tatoos and a scuffy beard. Other band members looked good particularly Phil. Pete should take his trousers back to the shop for a refund, however.

After the third or fourth song Michael took of his sunglasses revealing a black eye. You could see the cogs go round in the fan's faces as they all pondered, "Was that Phil's work?".The question would soon be answered. At some point Phil came a bit to close and Michael lashed out with his hand. From here on in things went from bad to worse. [Daves note: I can say with upmost confidence that Michaels black eye was nothing to do with Phil, or any other members of the band or crew.]

Michael kept paying visits to the back of the stage for more beer. Midnight train was a disaster but Phil with help from stage right kept on going. Throughout the event Michael kept approacing Phil in a menacing way. At one point stalking him with one finger up in the air. Later between songs he appraoched Phil's mike and said " This guy sucks". He walked back to his own mike and said, with a smile and thumbs up "I suck too".

A furious Pete Way kept Schenker away from Mogg and at times seemed to be telling Michael which songs to play. A menacing Schenker responded by interfering with Pete's bass playing. Four members of the band kept the thing going as best they could. They were professional to the utmost, particularly Phil who managed to ignore Schenker throught but would have been more than justified in putting his lights out (sorry).

The solo to only you can rock me was a final insult. Whilst the keyboard backing looped like a plane circling Heathrow, Michael took off his guitar and followed Phil around the stage indicating that he should play the solo. Some kind of jealousy here as to who gets centre stage?

The guitar playing was poor in the beginning and deteriorated. Pete guided Schenker through Doctor Doctor but he wasn't interested. The last song Rock Bottom showed Schenker at his worst. The solo was abysmal. By now the fans had seen enough. Cries of "Schenker you're a disgrace" and choruses of boos echoed around the theatre.

And that was it. Phil was left on stage not realising it was over and kindly donated his shirt to the front row. He looked around to see that everyone else had gone, said goodnight and walked off. Bizarely a minute or so later Schenker walked back on stage, surveyed the audience and said, "Thank you for your boos. Goodbye", and then he left. It is only suprising that he did this using his own two legs since they barely seemed able to carry him through the show.

And as I said that was it. No encores, nothing. At least I can say I was there when Phil Mogg, Pete Way and Michael Schenker last played a live show together as UFO. Or maybe not........

Ian Hughes

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