UFO at Barcelona, Zeleste 17/11/97

Yesterday (17th Nov) was one of the most memorable days of my life. UFO has been my favorite group (especially with Schenker) since I was a teenager, but I had never gone to see them in live. Well, yesterday I did and, as we say in Spain its better late than never: It was simply incredible.

The concert started at 9:00. The support band was, as expected, Danger, Danger. They sounded quite good, although I dont really very much like the kind of music they play (a kind of easy californian AOR). They played for 45 minutes and they seemed very very happy with the peoples reaction to their show (perhaps they expected it would be worse).

Then, we had to wait 40 minutes more to see the real concert. I have never imagined that 40 minutes could have been such a long time! When the UFO show started, there were about 1000 or 1500 people in the audience. Im very bad at calculating such things, but I can say that the place had an excellent atmosphere (but not crowded). Anyway, there were more people than I expected since the concert was hardly advertised and it was on a Monday. Most of the audience were men in their late twenties or early-mid thirties.

The first song was Natural thing, and it was a bit disappointing: the sound wasn't too good, it was very loud. The notes of Schenkers guitar werent as clear as usual, and Phil Mogg sounded very low. Fortunately, things improved a lot and, after two or three songs you felt like being in the middle of Strangers in the Night.

The bands playing sounded incredibly fresh, especially Schenker: he's a genius. He played better and better in every song (Love to love and Lights our solos were amazing!) and, at the end, in the Rock Bottom solo, he reached the top. The rest of the band left the stage, all lights went down (apart from one focused on him) and he start to play a long solo a bit different (and I can say even better) from the other versions I had heard (the studio album or the Strangers in the Night version). He started with a slow part and afterwards he combined slow with fast passages and improvising with like-the-album parts. You could hear how every note cut the air and went into your brain. Without a doubt, the best guitar performance I've ever heard. (By the way, he wore a black baseball cup, a long black shirt and jeans). He played with two guitars: the white Flying V and, during the song Venus, he changed three or four times between the electric guitar and an an acoustic one.

Phil Mogg, who seemed younger than in the Walk on Water photographs (he wore black and took off his t-shirt in the last song), was also brilliant, although, in my opinion, a bit short of voice in some moments, when some songs reached their highest notes. But, well, he's Phil, isn't he? His presence is enough. Also, he's really a professional and sometimes (for resting?) let people sing. In Rock Bottom the music stopped and he made the audience repeat, in different ways, the title of the song. He seemed to be very happy and he tried to say Barcelona with Spanish accent (he didnt succeed, by the way).

Pete Way played the role of making people jump (although we didn't need being encouraged!). He should have ended the concert exhausted! This attitude contrasted with Schenkers one: activity and movement versus concentration and stillness. Both (he and Paul) made back vocals in many songs (especially in the final part of the concert). Schenker seemed more relaxed when he was singing and he even smiled two or three times.

Paul Raymond was very very busy combining guitar and keyboards and also singing. Well, he's important, I know, but not so brilliant as the rest of the band: my attention was focused on other parts of the stage.

The show took one hour and a half (I learnt how one hour and a half can be felt just as minutes), so it finished at 12:10 more or less. They played the 'old' catalogue as well as three 'Walk and Water' songs. The complete set list was the following:

Natural Thing
Mother Mary
A Self Made Man
Electric Phase
This Kids
Out in the Streets
One More for Rodeo
Pushed to the Limit
Love to Love
Too Hot to Handle
Only You Can Rock Me
Lights Out

and the encores..

Doctor, Doctor
Rock Bottom

and the re-encore

Shoot, Shoot

At the end of the concert was announced that Schenker would sign copies of his new album 25th anniversay live, but it was late (my friends and I had to work on Tuesday) and I came back home (listening to UFO in the car, of course) exhausted but very very happy.

Nano Villar
Bacelona, Spain
18th Nov 1997

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