‘Last Orders; 50th Anniversary Tour’
The Junction, Cambridge
Review by Paul Monkhouse & Photo by Daniel Ackerley-Holmes
Very few bands in rock are as legendary as UFO. Since forming in the late 60’s theirs has been a mercurial and notorious history, filled with fights, stellar musicians and peerless songwriting. When last year main man Phil Mogg announced his intention to retire, tickets for this 50th anniversary became some of the most eagerly awaited and sought after and rightly so. The ‘Last Orders Tour’ is a cherry-picked celebration of some of the finest slices of hard rock ever to be committed to tape.
When the lights dimmed and a bar bell rang, one by one the band strolled onto stage and tore into opening number Let It Roll like it was freshly minted. Buoyed by the ecstatic reaction of a packed crowd the band tackled the material with a passion that mixed their seasoned professionalism with a sense of genuinely having an absolute ball onstage.
Mogg in particular was in truly great form, looking fit and lean, cracking jokes between songs and with a voice that arguably sounded the best it ever has. With old friends and foils Andy Parker on the drums and Paul Raymond on keys and guitar it was a joy to see these three on stage providing a masterclass of muscular and melodic music. The two ‘new’ boys Rob De Luca and Vinnie Moore more than held up their ends, De Luca meshing perfectly with Parker to provide a tight rhythm section that pinned down the grooves of the songs with élan and Moore firmly stamping his own identity into tracks previously played by ex UFO alumni and world class six stringer Michael Schenker.
This wasn’t though just an exercise in nostalgia as newer tracks such as Baby Blue, Burn Your House Down and a brilliant Messiah of Love from 2015s ‘A Conspiracy of Stars’ stood shoulder to shoulder with the classics. In fact, along with a outstanding solo on Ain’t No Baby, the acoustic guitarwork on these three were some of the highlights of the evening and showed why Moore was such a great choice to replace the, once more, departing Schenker in 2003. Be it the interplay with the superb keys of Raymond or his own showcase during the extended workout of Rock Bottom Moore truly put his heart into his playing.
All you could wish for and more was played with each song being greeted like an old friend. Lights Out, Only You Can Rock Me and Cherry came in a rush of euphoria and a truly epic Love to Love was enough to make grown men cry, such was its magnificence. With the unbeatable one / two punch of set closers Too Hot to Handle and the aforementioned Rock Bottom there was only one way to come out for the encore. The moment the familiar glistening keyboard started and was joined by the tasteful guitar work, shivers ran down spines as the place erupted. This turned into the out and out adrenaline rush of THAT riff as every single voice in the place sang the titular opening lines “Doctor Doctor please…”. Probably the first song that most people get to hear by UFO, this is still one of the greatest tracks in rock and something that is seen as the bands very own calling card. Following that was nigh on impossible but a triumphant Shoot Shoot rounded off the night perfectly on part of what is potentially going to be the tour of the year. No-one quite knows what the future holds for UFO but even if this is their swan song they couldn’t go out in finer style. Absolutely unmissable.
DANIEL ACKERLEY-HOLMES PHOTOGRAPHY
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Photo supplied courtesy of Daniel Ackerley-Holmes