Set-list: Natural Thing, Mother Mary, Self Made Man, Electric Phase, This Kids, Out in the Street, One More for the Rodeo, Venus, Pushed to the Limit, Love to Love, Too Hot To Handle, Only You Can Rock Me, Lights Out. First encore; Doctor Doctor, Rock Bottom. Second encore; Shoot Shoot.
I think it would be safe to assume that anybody travelling from England to Paris in order to take in and experience a live show would be an extreme fan of the band in question. That being the case, there were quite a few UFO/Schenker fanatics that were safley ensconced at the front of the stage at the Elysee Montmartre in readiness for the expected aural and visual assault that is UFO. According to information advanced to me prior to the show by Phil Mogg, the gig was SOLD OUT. Thus, 1,400 fans waited with eager anticipation for what was to come. They were not to be disappointed.
When the lights went down the intro tape (which was The Sensational Alex Harvey Bands 'Faithhealer') engulfed the hall. This was followed by 'Hello Paris, will you please welcome from England UFO!' At which point Schenker cracked open the riff to 'Natural Thing'. The lighting rig went into overdrive and they were there, UFO, featuring Mogg, Way, Schenker, Raymond and Wright. Blinding!
Initially, in the opening number, Mogg's vocals were lost in the mix, but that gremlin was exorcised expeditiously.From here on in the sound was exemplary. Admittedly, for me, it was difficult to take my eyes off Schenker for the first few numbers (especially with Pete Way catapulting himself everwhere in his own inimitable style) Phil Mogg was cool. Anybody that wears pink suede shoes has gotta be cool. His vocals were so strong and he sang with a conviction and passion that (sadly) is rarely seen these days (even from vocalists half his age!) Paul Raymond augmented the bands sound in his customery professional way and Simon Wright drove the whole machine at a phenomenal pace. UFO were, in a word, TIGHT!
Schenker though, was incredible. For most of the set he stood with his eyes closed in a state of trance, playing the most dexterously intricate (and paradoxically vicious) guitar solos and riffs I've ever witnessed. Spellbinding! It proved to this writer that Michael Schenker is, without quivocation, the finest guitarist of his generation. He was, for the duration of gig flawless. Perfection personified!
Songs such as 'Mother Mary', 'This Kids', 'Out in the Street', 'Love to Love', 'Too Hot To Handle', 'Only You Can Rock Me' and 'Lights Out' have, over the years, become the staple diet of any UFO set. Yet, it was fantastic to see those songs performed (again) with such conviction, passion and verve. Collectively, the band were blistering.
It was though, the lesser known live songs that, for me, stood out. 'Self Made Man' was mindblowing and it temporarily disabled your senses. 'Venus' came across better live than on album and Pushed to the Limit was one of the best songs of the evening. 'Electric Phase' was dragged out of the closet, given a brush down and performed with the usual panache that is UFO. However, the highlight of the gig was undoubtedly 'One More for the Rodeo'. Anybody who's familiar with said song would be amazed to see how Schenker managed to play it note for note. In fact it would be beyond the ability of us lesser mortals (and any sane persons rationale) to even make an attempt to fathom it out. Frightening!
The band finished the main set with 'Lights Out' and returned with a souped up rendition of 'Doctor Doctor' and mega heavy work out of 'Rock Bottom'. At this juncture, I actually witnessed people with jaws agape and tears in their eyes, staring at Schenker in sheer disbelief. They returned for a second encore (Shoot Shoot) and after 1hr 30mins they were gone. Thank you Paris and goodnight!
I have been to many gigs over the years and unquestionably, this is definitely in my top 5. UFO are a premier league outfit and you'll be hard pushed to find a better band on the live circuit. When they hit the UK in February, I implore all UFO fans out there to attend and to spread the word about the tour. In essence, UFO are an exceptional live entity!
Let's hope that there is no recurrence of the problems that beset and disabled the U.S. 'Walk on Water' tour in 1995. Whilst talking to Phil (Mogg) prior to the Paris gig I enquired how the band were 'getting on'. He said that they'd known each other for a long time and were used to each others 'idiosyncracies' and that they'd become more tolerant and accommodating towards one another. Let's hope this is the case, because it would be a travesty if fans in the UK were denied (yet again) the experience of seeing this line-up live.