Music: Review: U.F.O, O2 Academy

Jonathon Kardasz, May 5, 2015

The discerning rock fan was once again forced to choose between two cracking gigs: veteran hard rock act UFO at the Academy and the superb Blues Pills at the Bierkeller (seriously, why aren’t these things being scheduled to avoid serial gig clashes?). Some fans may have chosen BP on the basis that UFO always play a set heavily based on the seminal Strangers in the Night LP so they could afford to miss this tour – promoting new recording A Conspiracy of Stars. Were they right to do so? Well, before we find out how did the support act do?

Reds’Cool are from St.Petersburg and they came to rock. The band played quality hard rock that would have found a natural home on the Neat label back in NWoBHM days but more Heavy Pettin’ than Venom. They sing in English rather than Russian and gave us a quality live set. Unlike other European contemporaries (especially the Scandinavian crews) the music didn’t push many boundaries – rather than integrating indigenous sounds & instruments within the genre tropes, the band stuck to the basics. So we had plenty of well crafted, technically excellent tunes that received a warm welcome from the crowd. The guys were clearly enjoying themselves and are worth keeping an eye on if they return.

Despite being one of the finest hard rock bands the UK has ever produced, UFO have had a career full of…variety…encompassing the discovery of a German wunderkind on lead guitar, arena status in the US, top 40 singles in the UK; and a fall from grace that encompassed more debauchery than Mötley Crüe on a night out with lame dilettante Pete Doherty; shambolic live shows, line-up soap operas and a welcome return to form. They’ve a run of decent LPs now and have a stable line up that delivers a consistently enjoyable set on any given night. But as mentioned, they’ve relied heavily on the Strangers… track listing. This time around though, there was a very welcome reboot of the set: only six tunes from that LP and the majority from other LPs old and new.

As usual front man Phil Mogg was on form, wit as dry as a bone and voice in fine fettle, and the band were firing on all four too – the senior three somewhat more sedate than their younger colleagues on guitar and bass, but then the music doesn’t need gymnastic presentation, just a decent sound (tick), enthusiastic audience (tick) and a raucous atmosphere (tick). As for the songs, Cherry was very well received, Venus a pleasurable surprise and both Makin’ Moves and We Belong to the Night reminding us that even during the wilderness years &  dark days the band could produce a decent ditty.

So if you went to Blues Pills you probably had a great night, but you missed a bit of a treat – UFO delivering quality yet again with a great set of songs. Catch ‘em next time if you’re a fan and see where the set goes next, if you’re not come and find out why they’re as highly regarded as Thin Lizzy by hard rock aficionados.

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