Review by Rich Ward, photos by Lisa Billingham
Support act Reds’cool will be no surprise to the UFO fans tonight as the Russian outfit were on the bill for UFO’s previous tour. A hard rock band whose image and songs seem hewn in the ’90s, they put in a tight and enthusiastic performance with tracks culled from their debut album Bad Story. Their sound makes them a good choice for support, and they go down well. However, the songs didn’t really make enough of an impression on me to visit their merch stall afterwards.
On to the main reason why the Wulfrun is packed out again; UFO are here promoting their 22nd studio album Conspiracy Of Stars. An album that shows that UFO are one of the classic rock bands who continue to produce quality new music rather than just rely on the nostalgia value alone to draw in the crowd. This approach is also reflected in the setlist. For the past few years the band have been dropping in unexpected gems into the set rather than rely on a dozen tracks from Strangers In The Night and a couple of new ones. This is immediately apparent tonight with the Chapman era opener of ‘We Belong To The Night’; a superb song which probably hasn’t been in their live set since the 1982 Mechanix tour.
I’m pleased to see that they are still including a couple of songs from Seven Deadly, particularly ‘Burn Your House Down’ which for me is a stand out track from recent years which matches the bluesier side of Vinnie Moore with Mogg’s vocals perfectly. In terms of promoting the new album, ‘Run Boy Run’ and ‘The Killing Kind’ are played with the fervour of a band proud to show off their new material, before returning to familiar territory with a full on ‘Lights Out’ and the latter era Schenker delight of ‘Venus’.
We get spoiled again with a second Chapman era song in ‘Makin’ Moves’ which is truly appreciated by the UFO faithful. The band are to be applauded by the variety of the main set, and as it reaches it’s conclusion it becomes a little more obvious, but no less entertaining. ‘Rock Bottom’ sees Vinnie Moore making it his own on the lengthy workout, yet by the time the encore of ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Shoot Shoot’ arrive it seems too soon and it seems that there should have been at least a couple of more tracks in there somewhere. Lacklustre lighting aside, there was a downside to the evening and that was the sound; it was dreadful. Far too bass heavy and littered with feedback throughout the whole set it did a disservice to the band and stopped me enjoying the night as much as I normally would. Having said that, the band left the stage to a rapturous applause having received a reception that they have become accustomed to by the Wolves crowd.
UFO hit the Midlands again with a date at Nottingham Rock City on 28th April and Oxford O2 Academy on 6th May.