UFO - LIVE: The Forum, London 2012

Seven Deadly Tour
April 4 (21:00-22:50)
Capacity 2000

Although still very active, producing a new album every couple of years, UK rock veterans UFO tour quite regularly, but usually in different places. Last time the UK had a headlining tour, for The Visitor, London was not included. The last time London had a UFO show was 2006, when they played the Astoria supporting the Monkey Puzzle album.

That show was not their best, largely due to a drunk Phil Mogg (vocals), who continued to drink throughout the show. This time Phil was on fine form, which made all the difference. Still without the volatile Pete Way on bass, replaced by Sebastian Bach's Rob De Luca, the band remains otherwise unchanged, with original members Andy Parker on drums and Paul Raymond on rhythm guitar and keyboards, and Vinnie Moore on lead guitar, a member for the last several years.

In a live setting UFO are, since the departure of wayward guitarist Michael Schenker and the hiring of Moore, a reliably solid unit, which can make their performances unremarkable (save Mogg's unique brand of off-the-cuff banter) but when they are on form they are as engaging a hard rock outfit as it's possible to find today. Taking the stage dead on 21:00 the set started in familiar territory with the chunky riffs of Mother Mary, a popular opener for some time now, and Mogg appeared in good spirits from the off while new boy De Luca raced around the stage, full of energy, for the whole set.

Much like every tour the bulk of the setlist doesn't change (enough). One song from the previous album often survives (strangely the mediocre Hell Driver this time), three or four songs from the new album get aired (one-dimensional Fight Night and Wonderland early on, then excellent pairing Mojo Town and Burn Your House Down later - and thankfully no Angel Station), and maybe one or two older songs get resurrected (an outstanding rendition of Venus tonight), but otherwise tracks like Let It Roll, Lights Out, Rock Bottom and Too Hot To Handle seem to be immovable.

This too can make the band rather predictable, especially once the shows enters the last half hour (the same three songs always close the main set, with the same two songs always appearing in the encore). When they perform so well this can be ignored to an extent, and no one will ever complain about Doctor Doctor keeping its eternal place in the set, but constantly playing so many of the same songs does mean they have an enormous body of fine work which simply never gets heard live.

If they don't want to disappoint fans who want to hear those hits every time (something older bands really should stop being afraid of) then perhaps it would serve them well to have another 30 minutes of material rehearsed ahead of the tour and rotate the other songs in the set every night around the mainstays. At least then their shows, however well performed (and make no mistake, this night was one of their best), won't feel like quite such a choreographed production and that elusive element of surprise that should accompany every live rock show could be maintained. For a safe, dependable night of classic hard rock, there are few better than UFO right now.

“ as engaging a hard rock outfit as it's possible to find today ”

Setlist: Mother Mary / Fight Night / Wonderland / I'm A Loser / Let It Roll / Mojo Town / Burn Your House Down / Only You Can Rock Me / Love To Love / Hell Driver / Venus / Too Hot To Handle / Lights Out / Rock Bottom // Doctor Doctor / Shoot Shoot

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock,

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