Fifty years is a good innings for any endeavour, but for a rock band playing music as urgent and energetic as the proto-heavy metal of London’s UFO, it’s a particularly unlikely milestone to reach. On this showing, however, it’s also a very welcome one – featuring founding vocalist Phil Mogg and drummer Andy Parker (although only the former has remained with the group at every stage in their journey), as well as long-standing keyboard player Paul Raymond, UFO still provide a dynamic interpretation of a sound which made them a cult in the 1970s and finally brought them to fame as elders of the genre when metal broke big in the early 1980s.
UFO, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ***
It’s uncertain whether the unusual presence of crash barriers in the Queen’s Hall was strictly necessary, but the band – at 67, Parker is a baby compared to the seventy-something elder members – still managed to pack the venue and inspire pockets of furious headbanging. “I’m doing this as quick as I can!” offered Mogg after a serrated version of Run Boy Run, although in truth he’s a relaxed frontman, with the most un-metal combination of bald head and braces. Raymond’s virtuosic piano also added a proggy depth to these meaty, riff-strewn songs.
Instead the newer recruits, sometime Alice Cooper guitarist Vinnie Moore (long since taken over from Michael Schenker) and bassist Rob De Luca, handled the macho rock poses at the front of the stage during signature tracks like Lights Out, Makin’ Moves and the mountainous, extended double entendre that is Rock Bottom.
Closing on their most widely-known tracks Doctor Doctor and Shoot Shoot, this Last Orders tour has been billed as Mogg’s – and therefore most likely the band’s – final outing; if so, it was a confident and strident way to go. - David Pollock