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Sunday, April 26, 2015

LIVE REVIEW: UFO just get better and better as they return once again to Belfast

UFO were amongst a very select few of bands, who, during the 'Troubles' that afflicted Northern Ireland, played in the city despite the world crumbling down around many of the citizens.

While the mainstream media focusses on the punk reaction to the Troubles, hard rock and metal acts were consistent visitors during those dark days. Phil Mogg and his band mates first played in Belfast in 1979, and have been consistent visitors ever since.

On April 22nd in Limelight1 they were once again on  a Belfast stage proving to all in attendance that age isn't slowing them down.

Before UFO once again strode Northern Ireland's boards they brought with them St Petersburg rockers Reds'cool. And what a treat they turned out to be!

The vast, vast majority of the audience had never heard of Reds'cool before apart from a few Youtibe visits to check them out.

Things didn't start too auspiciously, howeer, with Slava's vocals lost in the mix for the first two songs, but from there it was apparent that Reds'cool are a special live act.

They have the onstage chops, songs that soar with hard rockin' excellence, great stage presence and an easy charm that had the men laughing and the ladies admiring the music and the 'eye candy'.

While Reds'cool proved that the young breed can cut it, UFO are masters of the hard rock scene.

It seems ridiculous that they first formed in 1969 (Phil Mogg and Andy Parker have been there ever since); it seems ridiculous that Mogg will be 70 next year, but set that all aside and this is a five-piece that simply plays with an easy aplomb.

Many bands of their ilk are content to trot out the 'hits' collect their cheque and move on. Not so UFO.

Opening with 'We Belong to the Night' from 'Conspiracy of Stars' and then hitting us with 'Fight Night' in a one-two combination as if to prove they can still write great tracks.

Mogg has been visibly less mobile over the past two tours, but there is nothing halting or faltering about his voice. He can still hit it on classics like 'Lights Out' and 'Only You Can Rock Me' plus he is velvet smooth on 'Love To Love'.

While there may be a few who still harken back to Schenker days for most Vinnie Moore is now entrenched as the UFO guitarist. His guitar tone is sweet, yet powerful when needed; his playing goes from under-stated to outrageously good; and, he manages to perfectly blend the classic sounds with a contemporary feel.

His solo slot was jaw-droppingly good - well paced, perfectly executed and aurally fun to partake in.

Of course the UFO sound is that classic twin-guitar sound, and Paul Raymond riffs along in an almost casual way when he steps away from the keyboards.

Mogg was enjoying himself on stage, his banter (slightly, ahem, slurry banter) was funny, and not the banter of the wannabes who repeat the same schtick night after night. Clearly enjoying the interaction with the audience in between increasingly excellent songs this is one pensioner who shows no signs of slowing down.

'Rock Bottom'? It looks like it will be a long time before UFO hit rock bottom: as they did in 1979 they had Belfast rocking in sheer delight.

Review by Jonny
Photographs by Darren McVeigh of MetalplanetBelfast

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