Concert Review: Legendary British Rockers UFO, Still Deliver The Goods

Live at The Palladium, with Saxon, Worcester, Ma.

WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS – When you have waited for nearly 40 years to see one of your all-time favorite bands, the anticipation on “concert day” is sky high! However, such enthusiasm can also create the possibility of disappointment, for if you’ve been following a band for said 40 years, well, let’s just say it could create unrealistic expectation of the upcoming performance. In the words of my long time, concert-going friend, who was also seeing UFO for the first time... “Will the guys have anything left in the gas tank?”

Review and photos by Joe Milliken

Well, I am happy to report that, UFO, the legendary British rock band that has sold over 10 million albums and accumulated a very loyal following four decades strong, surely do have plenty left in the tank, thank you very much!

After an energized, opening set from "New Wave of British Heavy Metal" veterans, Saxon, UFO hit the stage and from the outset, unleashed their fiery brand of old school rock-meets-classic heavy metal, as the legion of enthusiastic fans roared their approval. Led by original members, front-man/vocalist, Phil Mogg, and drummer Andy Parker, along with guitarist/keyboardist, Paul Raymond (member since 1976), guitarist, Vinnie Moore (since 2003), and bassist, Rob De Luca (since 2012), the band proceeded to rip through a balance of classic rockers, and beautiful, rocking-melodic ballads that really, no other rock band can produce like UFO can.

After a couple “deeper tracks” to open the show, “We Belong To The Night” and “Run Boy Run,” a string of UFO favorites proceeded to fill my head; from the blistering rockers “Lights Out,” “Only You Can Rock Me,” and “Too Hot To Handle,” to the beautifully melodic “Ain’t No Baby” and “Cherry,” and the hypnotic “Love To Love,” the band commanded the stage and delivered a powerful, pristine sound.

Mogg's vocals are as strong as ever, as he delivered dynamic takes throughout and created a classic-cool stage presence, wielding his mic stand as he prowled about the stage. Guitarist Vinnie Moore, simply put, was impressive. Having the unenviable task of filling the shoes of The Blonde Bomber, Michael Schenker, Moore has been with the band for 15 years and now, witnessing it myself, has mastered all the guitar parts to a tee. In fact, he could probably get away with injecting a little more of his own personality into the riffs.

The rest of the band was also stellar, Paul Raymond, smooth and melodically sliding between keyboards and guitar, Andy Parker, hitting as hard as ever and Rob De Luca – who by the way, also has some pretty big shoes to fill in replacing bass legend, Pete Way – creating a solid low end as he darted around the stage and surely made his presence felt.

Towards the end of the set, the band was really locked into a groove with the aforementioned “Cherry,” “Love To Love,” and “Too Hot To Handle,” before bringing the house down with an encore featuring fantastic versions of the UFO rockers “Rock Bottom,” “Doctor Doctor,” and “Shoot Shoot.”

And the true test? When I closed my eyes, and those shredding solos and familiar rhythms took me right back to a time when life was so much simpler, just being a teen-aged rock-and-roller, and cranking up some UFO on my boom box with my buddies. The atmosphere truly created a cool blast from my rock-and-roll past. Yes, UFO passed the test with flying colors!

I honestly don’t know how one of my favorite bands had avoided my concert calendar all these years, but I am thankful that I finally got to see them perform live, and perform well. (I also finally got to see The Blonde Bomber, Michael Schenker, a couple years ago) UFO is one of those bands that, this reviewer feels, never quite got the credit they deserved in the pantheons of classic rock. Therefore, if you are not familiar, please take a moment and “YouTube” a few of these song titles and see what you’ve been missing, for I am happy to report that UFO still has some gas left in the tank!