UFO at Kentish Town Forum, London

Published on April 10th, 2019

Gig review – UFO at Kentish Town Forum, April 5, 2019


WHERE once we used to ask each other ‘which new band excites you most?’, we now ask ‘which retirement most depresses you?’

You can have your KISSes and your Bob Segers; the imminent departure of UFO from touring schedules seems to me the biggest bummer. I saw them once in 1991 here in London then not at all until 2012 on cruise ship; I was just getting used to having them around.

Tonight is the second London show on the Last Orders Tour in as many days; Shepherds Bush Empire sold out the previous evening and there were touts selling tickets below face value on the way in.

This seems a slightly inauspicious drawing of the curtain for one of rock’s most influential bands in its home down; although of course that won’t be the case. They’ll go off and tour the world and come back here to really send themselves off at year’s end.

Just about every one of tonight’s 15 songs can be viewed on Youtube; there’s no point in going into chapter and verse on the setlist.

Take a look at “We Belong To The Night”, the second song in, and ponder the fact that such aggressive, loud, rebellious, rambunctious music is now so dated (in a literal sense) that the band who performed it are about to retire.

Really? God, we’re old.

Singer Phil Mogg is in a playful mood, recalling how he got his first job at 15 nearby, earning £3.76 a week. He invites people to send dedications onto the stage in paper airplanes and dedicates “Love To Love” to someone in their 20s celebrating a birthday.

The schtick about not being able to remember what album any given song is from – I’ve only just realised it’s Mogg schtick – is given a regular airing.

The crew put a For Sale sign on the mic stand.

And the entire bank of stage-left amps just doesn’t fire up – for at least the first four songs. It’s one thing to complain about the sound at a gig – quite another when the one you’re actually at sounds like it’s being played in a neighbouring field.

Vinnie Moore, the last UFO guitarist in a long like of demi-Gods, is simply mesmeric. If Michael Schenker is the perfect marriage of technique and feel, then Moore is only a hair’s breadth behind him.

Predictably “Doctor Doctor” and “Rock Bottom” invite rampant air punching and even a few tears from the overwhelmingly male and middle aged audience, but more recent tracks like “Burn Your House Down” and “Run Boy Run” fit snuggly alongside the standards.

But there is no new album to promote and, presumably, there never will be again.

I asked a friend if he planned to go and he responded: “no, I’ll wait for the reunion”.

Perhaps the question now is not which retirement depresses us most but which reunion excites us. Then again, even for our favorite bands, reunions can be depressing.

I can’t imagine ever feeling that way about UFO.

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