UFO in Stockholm and Gothenberg, November 29 and 30, 1997

After having experienced all the true miracles as well as vast disappointments connected with this "classic" line-up over the years, without ever having had the opportunity to see them live, I felt these evenings would most likely present some kind of clarity to the bewildering blur of this whole idea. The most important question of all would obviously be if Schenker really wants to be a part of this band. History, including previous concert reports, havenīt really spoken in favour of those who still believe it. After having witnessed these two shows, all I can say is: yes, I get the feeling heīs honest in his attempts - and yes, I do think he enjoyed playing the gigs. He did, however, not convince me entirely.

UFO hit the stage in Stockholm some 45 minutes after the support act had left it. The lights went down, and the enchanting opening riffs of "Natural Thing" made the crowd go wild from the very start. The response was enormous. In spite of the rather modest size of the venue, the place really boiled from the beginning. Michael was on the left, taking his usual position, and rarely moving away from it, Phil was in the middle and Paul on the right. Pete (dressed in very tight, very 1978, leopard trousers) was of course the only one who never stood still one second during it all. They went straight into "Mother Mary", a fabulous powerful version, full of vigour and great guitar work. After having finished the song, they almost had to take a step back because of the crowdīs response, it was totally hysteric. I noticed that they glanced at each other in laughter, truly surprised by the intensity of it all. In fact, during the show Pete actually applauded us on several occasions, apperently thrilled with our behaviour. The third song was "A Self Made Man", and I must say, although not as sophisticated as on the album, it did rock with distinct power and melody. Then they played number after number of classic songs - you know the set list by now - including brilliant versions of "Electric Phase" and "One More for the Rodeo". The only real disappointment was that they didnīt come back one last time to do "Shoot Shoot" like they were "supposed" to. It remains a bit of a mystery why they didnīt, it had certainly nothing to do with lack of audience support!

From my position, standing at the very front, it was difficult to form an opinion of the actual sound. Others told me it was good, but that Paulīs keyboards didnīt come out the way they were supposed to. Phil sang really well all night, but seemed to be having to mobilize a lot of strenght to manage it. Michael and the others made great performances, with only a few minor slips. Michael wasnīt really as stiff as has been reported here earlier, in fact he smiled at the crowd more than once (would you believe it!) and even presented some totally unexpected and pretty entertaining stage moves along with Pete.

Since having the opportunity to go to the Gothenberg concert as well, it was interesting to see that the show was in a similar class to the one the night before. I got the impression that Michael was even better this time, and also more relaxed on the whole - and Philīs vocals were simply excellent! With a growing response from the crowd they seemed to be playing tighter and harder for every song, and performed real stunning versions of "Love to Love", "Lights Out" and "Doctor Doctor", and this time also including "Shoot Shoot" with a version that would have fit easily on "Strangers in the Night".

Summing up - what about Schenker? Well, he seems to be in great shape, he appeares to be enjoying himself on stage... So, I guess he will stay this time. Right? UFO are as good as they used to be, so I hope everything will go their way. Itīs about time it did.

Jan Andrée

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