Gig review: UFO – The Ritz, Manchester, 19 April 2015

UFO - The Ritz, Manchester, 19 April 2015

On the way to the gig in the car, and playing the latest album ‘A Conspiracy Of Stars’, I was reassured that this was still the hard rock album of the year nearly six months in.  But, as it turned out, UFO only played two songs from it tonight.  Once again they raised that perpetual conundrum: why don’t bands play more from their latest album?

In days of yore, it was normal for bands to release their latest album and tour on the back of it.  But invariably they would play – proudly – most of the new content.  These days bands need a quick succession of new product to justify their touring (from which they make their money) but all too often they slip back into their comfort zone and core back catalogue.

UFO - The Ritz, Manchester, 19 April 2015

That is not to say this UFO gig was anything other than pretty damn fine by modern standards but it is a great shame that – as time goes on – we are not going to hear much of a cracking new album played live, assuming it will be supplanted in a year or so’s time by another one.  I can only think that for some bands it means more effort in rehearsal or perhaps they think more new stuff will alienate half the audience weaned on ‘Strangers In The Night’?

UFO - The Ritz, Manchester, 19 April 2015

Again, the set tonight was tried and tested.  If there were twin peaks it was the first of ‘Venus’ and the subsequent ‘Love To Love’.  The former may have lacked the pace of the studio version but credit to Vinnie Moore for playing the verse part on acoustic guitar  to give a more authentic feel before launching into the visceral denouement.  It’s a cracking tune.  ‘Love To Love’ was also enhanced by Vinnie’s pristine soloing which was a highlight throughout tonight’s show.

Am I getting old, or are gigs getting shorter?  It was only just gone an hour when Phil Mogg announced the final tune before they “buggered off”.  Although this wasn’t the end of it as we had the extended finery of ‘Rock Bottom’ it does mean that the gig is essentially paced as a one hour performance.

UFO - The Ritz, Manchester, 19 April 2015

It must be a gripe because we know UFO have such a formidable back catalogue and of course they have that new album, only airing the weaker ‘The Killing Kind’ and the more robust ‘Run Boy Run’ very early on.

The songs that are played are predictable in terms of previous shows, only opener ‘We Belong To The Night’ (from ‘Mechanix’) deviating from the usual formula.  And cheeky chappie Mogg – plastic pint glass in hand throughout – was again on form both vocally and via banter on a range of subjects from dentistry to beer.

UFO - The Ritz, Manchester, 19 April 2015

Maybe ‘A Conspiracy Of Stars’ will be revisited as a “classic album” in times to come, but given that rock is not getting any younger -  and sadly not least bands like UFO – they should really seize the moment.  There shouldn’t be any need to revisit the album in the car on the way home.

1. We Belong To The Night  2. Fight Night  3. The Killing Kind  4. Lights Out  5. Run Boy Run  6. Only You Can Rock Me  7. Venus  8. Cherry  9. Burn Your House Down 10. Love To Love 11. Makin’ Moves 12. Rock Bottom  Encore:  13. Doctor Doctor  14. Shoot Shoot

Review by David Randall
Photos by Simon Dunkerley/GRTR!

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

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