UFO at Cambridge Corn Exchange - 11th February 1998

I got a little worried when the gap between the support band and UFO started to drag on, it was obvious that all the gear was set-up and the roadies were all standing in the wings with guitars ready. Perhaps, I worried, they couldn't stay together even this long, but after 45 minutes they finally appeared. Bang, no fanfare just straight into Natural Thing, perhaps because it isn't one of my faves I felt the playing was a little tentative, especially Michael, however, it was probably just the first song worries. Mogg's voice was well down in the mix, but this was corrected by the next song.

So first impressions then. Phil Mogg looks strangely like an older version of Mulder from the X Files. He and Paul Raymond looked like worn shall we say, the years have not been so good especially to the latter Pete Way, however, looked like he staggered straight out of glam-rock heaven with a skin tight leopard skin cat suit, eeeeyuckkkk. Skinny as a rake and with his bass slung so low he could play it with his toes, he was to be one of the highlights (but yet one of the low lights) of the evening. Constantly animated, looning about but certainly still with it as it were. So what of Metal Mickey you may ask, well his appearance is quite startling since most of his recent pictures portray him as a gnarly 80's rock kid throw back, with a backwards baseball cap and frazzled hair. Not so now, he's adopted the hispanic pimp look ala' Metallica, with jet black hair, goatee, 'tache and black suit .... errrr yes right.

Anyway they segued straight into Mother Mary, then the first of the new tracks Self Made Man. Now this is were Michael really came alive, I mean his playing had been good so far but nothing exemplary, but suddenly the fingers became fleet of foot (if fingers actually can ... never mind). Wow I thought he can still really hack it.

They then progressed through Electric Phase, and into This Kid including the great solo towards the end, which was really cool, Michael's playing was exemplary. One thing to note is that he isn't very animated on stage, he simply takes the pose you see on all you old dust jackets, legs together crouched over his flying V (slung very low indeed), lower wing jammed in between his legs and he does this little head boogie, moving his top from side to side ever so slightly, a bit like Billy Gibbons but less so, if you know what I mean.

Phil had an air of being slightly damaged good and this was demonstrated quite well with the next introduction, "this is from ..... this is from.... one of our albums". All with rather a rye smile, they know they are pretty lucky to have made it this far, perhaps that's why UFO never made it into the premier league of rock bands, nobody ever died young, that and their mutual animosity of course.

Now so far their had been little of this on stage, perhaps my foreboding at the start was ill founded and they had settled any differences, however, Michael had very little interaction with the rest of the band, indeed, Mogg and Schenker failed to acknowledge each other through the entire set. It was around this time that Pete Way either simply wanted to get down to some good old head bobbing or (more likely) began trying to antagonise Schenker by copying his every move, very *very* close to Michael, like in his face.

[Daves note: in fact, at most of the UK concerts this action rather than antagonize usually got a smile out of Michael!]

They then played Out in the Street, One More for the Rodeo, Venus, and Pushed to the Limit, the last two being new ones and which came over very well and Michael got down on his knees in front of his Marchalls for the solo in one.

[Daves note: probably because the moniters sound was too low and this was the only way to hear what was coming out!

The whole gig had excellent sound BTW, really really loud but still clear. Whereas the support got bogged down in a mire of double guitar noise making UFO had some of the best precision riffing I've ever seen, Michael's Flying V tone is amazing, chunky yet able to cut like a knife through the rhythm. God he was good!

Then into the home straight, the classics just came tumbling out; Love to Love, Too Hot To Handle, Only You Can Rock Me, Lights Out. Unlike Deep Purple where one has become rather jaded by sheer repetition of the old tracks, these all sparkled and did they know it, the crowd was singing along, getting into it so much that even Michael became animated, waving his guitar slowly from side to side underlying the really heavy notes.

And then they were off. The crowd was going nuts lots of chanting and stamping you know the drill. Safe to say they had impressed everyone immensely.

HOWEVER! The gap got longer and longer, torch lights flicked about the back stage area, the roadies where all ready with guitars again. Things were beginning to turn sour, eventually after about 10 minutes Paul Raymond came on, made a vague stab at the intro to Doctor Doctor, looked off stage, shook his head back and forth to a roadie, shrugged his shoulders and went off. It took another 5 minutes for a very sheepish roadie to come on and say Michael had "hurt his hand", which as everyone knew was total bollocks, and indeed we told them so, myself included. Disgusted we left in dribs and drabs wondering how something so good could suddenly turn out so badly. We went to a nearby pub and moaned over a couple of pints.

Ross Galvin

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