UFO in Hildesheim 12/12/97

As UFO were the first band I ever saw live I've always kept an interest in them, though I'd describe myself as a fan rather than a fanatic (I know one's short for the other but you know what I mean). 17 years down the road I was really looking forward to seeing them for the second time and better yet, with Michael Schenker!

Arriving at the venue, Vier Linden in Hildesheim, we were constantly asked if we had tickets. Nothing unusual there I thought, there's always people selling tickets outside gigs. Only after being accosted for about the 4th time did it dawn on me that these guys weren't selling - they were desperate to buy. I dare say we could've made a killing and gone straight home again but there's some things you just can't put a price on....

I'd describe Vier Linden as a concert hall with a club atmosphere. Billed as having a 900 capacity I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't squeezed a couple of hundred extra in there as the term "sardine box" springs to mind to describe conditions inside. The first thing I noticed was that as a woman, I was in a very small minority. I don't think I've ever been to such a male-dominated gig before. I'd put the age-range at anywhere between 30-50.

Abandoning all hope of fighting our way to the cloakroom we found ourselves a half-decent spot right of stage on a small raised balcony to await the support band, Danger Danger from New York, who hit the stage bang on time at 8.00pm. I'm glad to say they were one of the best supports I've seen in many a long year. The charismatic singer reminded me of a young David Lee Roth and exhibited an exuberance which was infectious. They enjoyed a good reaction from the crowd, a nice touch being their unaccompanied rendition of Happy Birthday to their manager.

Knowing that to leave our spot meant the risk of ending up at the back of the hall, we stayed put during the next 45 minutes, in an atmosphere that was rapidly starting to resemble a sauna. It was announced from the stage that Michael Schenker would be signing copies of his new double CD 5 minutes after the show and that he would sign any copy that fans had brought with them. Having read unsettling accounts from the US of earlier refusals to sign anything not bought at the actual gig I took this to mean that he's realised the unfairness of this.

My first reaction when UFO came on stage was quite simply how good they looked. I'm not sure of their exact ages except that Paul Raymond is 52 and the others must be at least 45. But you'd never have guessed it. My second reaction was the sound quality, which was amazing. Every note crystal clear, absolute perfection. I have no knowledge or interest in the technical aspects of a live production, my only gauge is "does it sound as good as on the record?" and boy did it, and then some. To say I was impressed is putting it mildly, I was completely blown away by them. I really can't fault any of it, the vocals were crisp and fresh, you could hear every word, Pete Way played the crowd in his own inimitable fashion and even Schenker (who played brilliantly) let his face crack into a smile several times and did some nice interacting with Way on backing vocals (I was afraid they'd bang their heads together the way they were rocking back and forth but they managed not to!).

In the face of such a brilliant performance I was a little disappointed at the crowd reaction during the first half of the show. They were appreciative and enthusiastic sure, but it wasn't until the 9th number, Love To Love, that they went absolutely wild and continued in this mood through to the end of the show. Speaking for myself, I find it infuriating when people just stand there totally impassive, too cool (or too ignorant more like it) to applaud at the end of a song. Perhaps the reason it took a while for the audience to warm up was that despite his undisputed talents as a vocalist, Phil Mogg isn't a natural showman and other than introducing the songs, acknowledging the applause with a few "thank-you's, danke schoen's and lovely-jubbly's" (shades of Del-boy!) he didn't do a lot to work up the crowd.

The set list:

Natural Thing
Mother Mary
A Self Made Man
Electric Phase
This Kids
Out In The Streets
One More For The Rodeo
Pushed To The Limit
Love To Love
Too Hot To Handle
Only You Can Rock Me
Lights Out

1st encore:

Doctor, Doctor
Rock Bottom

2nd encore:

Shoot Shoot

For the second encore Phil returned to the stage topless, certainly confirming what I said earlier about his being in good shape! They left the crowd yelling for more but by this time I was completely exhausted, dripping with sweat and my only thought by then was a cool drink followed by a warm shower!! An unforgettable night, long may they continue.

Ann McLaren

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