UK legendary rockers UFO, performed in the university town of Cambridge on Thursday, beginning a 16-date tour of the UK. The concert produced the obvious mix of experience, raw talent and hard rock charisma one expects from such a long-established act.
Formed in 1969, heavy metal legends UFO could easily have released the odd best-of compilation and taken in the royalties. But a vibrant energy, rock-and-roll heart and a love for performing has kept them going into their 43rd year. They have recently completed a tour of California, Texas and Arizona at the end of last year, several of the dates were sell-outs.
The band really came to prominence when Michael Schenker left German rock band The Scorpions, after being persuaded by members Phil Mogg and Pete Way back in 1973. It was during this golden era that the classics were born. Hard driven hits like Only You Can Rock Me, Love To Love, Too Hot To Handle, Lights Out and Rock Bottom to name but a few. All of the tracks were belted out in the band's customary, crisp inimitable style. Schenker left the band in 1979. But UFO were always omnipresent on the heavy metal scene ever since.
There was no tendency here in Cambridge to lean too heavily on new material that only die-hard fans would possibly appreciate, like they did on their 2009 tour. So we were left to enjoy mostly the classics.
As for the venue, The Junction in Cambridge's retail district provided a fine (and relatively cheap bar), perhaps the rather static crowd were not keen to spill their beer or it was too tightly packed near the front - but I swear lead singer Phil Mogg at 63, moved around more than anyone else in that hall. The drive and energy was delivered with pace and metronome timing and all done with a constant smile on his face.
I didn't time them but UFO rocked their way through 15 songs and no encore (is that allowed for a legendary rock band?). Time did seem to go quickly, perhaps Mogg's energy and pace blurred time but the crowd seemed to enjoy it as the bar was empty throughout the performance, despite being open. In fact many had picked their spot and held it even during the luke-warm performance of support band the Heavy Metal Kids.
Guitarist Vinnie Moore was the surprise package of the night, his guitar-licks were tight and faultless. The UK tour has already sold out at three venues so far. UFO are really more suited to a stadium arena than a 600-strong hall but then again you'd lose some of that up close and personal vibe the band were so good at creating tonight (not to mention a few pounds in the pocket). But that said it was still a rocktastic night and one I feel won't disappoint you should you want to Let it Roll.
UFO are performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle on Saturday night and Leeds O2 Academy on Sunday 18 March. Other dates include:
20th March - Ireland - Dublin - Academy
21st March - UK - Belfast - Spring & Airbrake
23rd March - UK - Milton Keynes - The Stables - SOLD OUT
24th March - UK - Tavistock - The Wharf - SOLD OUT
25th March - UK - Bristol - 02 Academy
27th March - UK - Nottingham - Rock City
28th March - UK - Norwich - Waterfront
30th March - UK - Manchester - HMV Ritz
31st March - UK - Wolverhampton - Wulfrun Hall
1st April - UK - Southampton - The Brook - SOLD OUT
3rd April - UK - Brighton - Concorde 2
4th April - UK - London - Forum