UFO - The Twilight Hard Rock Cafe - Nidrum, Belgium. 13/12/97

It doesen't seem anywhere near the four years since I last saw UFO. That was just before Christmas 1993, the great Lights Out reunion, and everyone said we were crazy flying to Germany for a ninety minute concert. Well, crazy or not, we're at it again. No aeroplanes this time though, this time we opted to drive to belgium, twelve hours in all, through the tunnel, no fires!

The Twilight is really a dream. A purpose built rock venue at the edge of a pine forest, in a small town that could barely have a population over a few hundred. An intimate atmosphere of around 600 capacity, not somewhere you would expect to find a newly reformed UFO, Hmmm. The hall has actually played host to several named artists in recent times, Walter Trout, Molly Hatchet, Saxon, Brian Robertson, Moody & Marsden...I could go on.

We spoke to Phil and Pete on the afternoon, even giving them a lift back to their hotel in our car. In Germany we found ourselves on the guest list, this time we had the real dogs bollocks 'access all areas' passes. It's a strange feeling brushing shoulders with your heroes in a dressing room ten minutes before they go and bust a gut in the name of rock and roll, but it's a time to savour. Everyone appears relaxed, except maybe us, but these guys have done it all a thousand time before, bought the t-shirts and came back for more. Ten minutes to show time and we still hadn't seen Michael, no body was concerned though, this must be regular.

We left to take a position side stage, this was as close as anyone could get. Some thirty minutes after the scheduled show time of 11pm, they finally emerged, looking fresh and relaxed, each in turn acknowledging our presence as they passed and headed stage right. The familiar opening sequence boomed out, a single spotlight picked out Schenker, dressed from head to toe in black, broken only by his blonde hair and beard(-ish) and Natural Thing, the perfect tonic for an impatient crowd. Phil was dressed in a silk, full three-quarter length coat - the ultimate cool, new haicut, "it had just got to that stage" and a fully intact voice. Pete Way is Pete Way, what else? Right from chord one he was pouting, rolling about, egging the others on, egging the crowd on and just doing what he does best, being Pete Way. This is probably the heaviest UFO have been, Paul Raymond's keyboard duties have been trimmed and his guitar duties increased, giving a much harder edge to the proceedings. At the back Simon Wright is everything Led Zeppelin would have wanted, a big hitter who keeps perfect time, though tonights stage isn't big enough for his gong, a sure miss at the start of 'Love to Love', ah those small mercies.

The set is well documented so I won't trudge through it track for track here. The highlights were certainly the Walk on Water songs, 'Venus' is massive live. The new/old numbers 'Electric Phase' and 'One More For The Rodeo' are a pure joy, and word perfect! There's no doubting Michael is the star of the show, and the others do shed a hint of respect his way, though it cuts both ways, Phil and Pete do bring the best out of him. These five guys are good for each other, and not as good without each other - nobody can dispute that fact. A lot is focused on how they get on with each other on tour, they don't travel together, share the same hotels, eat in the same restaurants. So what, it really shouldn't be an issue. UFO are the best performing band in the world at this time, regardless of any personal differences. Believe me, I just saw them! . Forget the bad things you hear, it's mostly bullshit anyway, what counts for us the fans is what goes on on that stage. They will be in England in February - don't miss 'em because I ain't going to be the one say "told you so!"

Mike Pincher, Misty Green and Blue, 1997.

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