Archive for the ‘UFO’ Category

UFO Newcastle Mayfair 23 June 1978?

ufoNow in this post, and the ticket pictured within, lies a mystery. Was this a concert I attended at Newcastle Mayfair? My friend found the ticket on eBay and bought it for me (thank you John). I did not already have the ticket but that is not to say I was not at the concert! Indeed I may well have been there. I would go to Mayfair with my late wife Marie on many Friday nights during the 1970s and other nights when there was a good band playing. I was also a massive UFO fan at the time. I had seen them many, many times at Sunderland Locarno and almost as many times at Newcastle Mayfair around this period. In 1978, UFO had just released the Obsession album which opens with the classic track “Only You Can Rock Me ”.

ufo1At the time the band were playing such classics as the great rock ballad “Love to Love”, and other rockers including “Lights Out”, “Rock Bottom”, “Too Hot to Handle”, “Shoot Shoot” and the amazing rocker “Doctor Doctor”, one of my favourite rock songs of all time. They also of course played the aforementioned “Only You Can Rock Me”. A clutch of catchy rock songs that should have ensured massive success for the band. Although UFO did become very popular in the UK, and worldwide, they never quite reached the levels of success of some of their contemporaries. I never understood why they are not seen as seminal as other bands of the time such as Judas Priest. On a good night, after a few drinks, in a nightclub such as Newcastle Mayfair there was nothing better than witnessing UFO at the height of their powers. The line-up at the time was the classic collection of Phil Mogg (vocals), Michael Schenker (amazing Flying V guitar), Pete Way (bass guitar around his knees), Paul Raymond (keyboards and second guitar) And Andy Parker (drums).

The band was soon to release the great live album Strangers In the Night. “Some critics, and the fans marked it as one of the greatest live rock albums of all time. Kerrang! magazine listed the album at No. 47 among the “100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time”.” (From Wikipedia)


My guess is that I was at this concert and, I either paid at the door and never had a ticket (most likely), or alternatively I did have a ticket which was handed in at the door. Either way, in my mind, I am there singing along with those great songs and marvelling at Michael Schenker’s guitar playing particularly on “Doctor Doctor”. Fantastic. This band were, without question, one of the top rock outfits of all time. Period!

UFO_–_Hamburger_Harley_Days_2015_02I was lucky enough to see UFO many more times over the years. In recent years it seems the band may have come to the end of their long road. “In May 2018, vocalist Phil Mogg announced that UFO’s 50th anniversary tour in 2019 would be his last one as the frontman of the band, who may also either split up or move on with a replacement for him. Mogg explained, “This decision has been a long time coming. …. I don’t want to call this a farewell tour as I hate that word….” (From Wikipedia). I was lucky enough to see them on that particular tour. However, the run of concerts also saw the passing of several current and former members of the band.

Only a few days after seeing the band in Newcastle, long-time keyboard player Paul Raymond passed away from a heart attack on 13 April 2019 at the age of 73. Paul Raymond was replaced by Neil Carter who re-joined UFO for the remainder of the tour. Sadly, former guitarist Paul Chapman also passed on his 66th birthday, 9 June 2020. Chapman’s passing was followed two months later by that of original bassist, the late great Pete Way, who passed from an accident at the age of 69. Too many of our heroes are passing at early ages.

2022_Lieder_am_See_-_UFO_-_by_2eight_-_7DS2429Then, in August 2022, Phil Mogg himself suffered a heart attack. Phil was advised by doctors to stop performing and this resulted in the remainder of the tour being cancelled. Does this mean the end of the great rock ‘n’ roll band that was UFO? If so, their like will never be seen again.

A typical set list from 1978 was something like this (from setlist .com): Hot ‘n’ Ready; Pack It Up (And Go); Cherry; Love to Love; Only You Can Rock Me; Let It Roll; Doctor Doctor; Lights Out; Rock Bottom; Too Hot to Handle; Shoot Shoot. How’s that for a great night out!

Was I at the concert? Who knows? I wish I had kept a diary! Anyway, this ticket, and John’s gift of it, has given me the chance to write a blog entry during the quiet season around New Year before I get back to serious gig going again in February 2023! Thanks again John.

Thanks to Frank Schwichtenberg for providing the image of UFO performing in Hamburg, 2015, via Wikimedia Commons. Thanks also to Stefan Brending for providing an image from 2022 of UFO performing at the Hellfest, Germany. And I couldn’t resist including a lovely photograph of the interior of the Mayfair ballroom. This was from 1961, but it didn’t look much different in the 1970s! From Wikimedia Commons: “The Mayfair Ballroom and Concert Hall was one of the most popular venue’s in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, hosting a rock club, which became the largest and longest-running of its kind in Europe. Situated on the corner of Newgate Street and Low Friar Street, it closed in 1999 to make way for a leisure complex, now known as The Gate. 22 November 1961 photographed by Turner’s. Please cite ‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums'”

UFO Last Orders 50th Anniversary Tour Newcastle Academy 28 March 2019


UFO have always been one of my favourite rock bands. I saw them in the very early days when (I think) Larry Wallis was on guitar, and then slightly later with the great Michael Schenker on guitar, the late great enigmatic Pete Way on bass (his bass guitar almost down around his knees) at Sunderland Mecca and Newcastle Mayfair in the days when “Doctor Doctor” was simply class, and remains one of my favourite songs to this day. They soon graduated from ballrooms to headlining Newcastle City Hall and the Reading Festival once, as I recall. Their classic take on rock with poppy “hooks” made them stand out from other rock bands of the time and they had some great songs, particularly those on the Lights Out album. These included “Love to Love”, “Rock Bottom” and “Shoot Shoot”. The one constant throughout this period, and to this day, was, and is, singer Phil Mogg who has fronted the band for some 50 years. Sadly, this era is coming to an end as Phil Mogg has announced his retirement and this tour was thus named the Last Orders tour. The tour was announced: “This decision has been a long time coming. I’ve considered stepping down at the end of UFO’s previous tours in 2016,” Mogg explained. “I don’t want to call this a farewell tour as I hate that word, but this year’s gigs will represent my final tap-dancing appearances with the band.”

UFO PIX 3I caught up with the tour, with my carer Jackie, when they visited Newcastle Academy last year. To get into the venue in my wheelchair we had to squeeze into one small lift which took us up to the bar level of the venue where our places were waiting for us, with a great view of the stage, looking over the heads of the crowd in front. The venue was packed, with lots of familiar faces from the days of the Mayfair Friday night rock nights. The band came onstage to the sounds of Alex Harvey’s “Faith Healer” as an introduction (great choice) and then launched into a set of old favourites and newer songs, some of which were less familiar to me. But the classics were all there; the aforementioned “Lights Out”, “Love to Love” and “Only You Can Rock Me”. They closed the set with “Rock Bottom”. Perfect. The volume was loud and the songs as classic as ever. We all knew they were going to return and we also knew that there would play “Doctor Doctor”. This was followed by the final song, the great, rocking “Shoot Shoot”.

Sadly, a couple of weeks after seeing the band, longtime guitarist and keyboard player Paul Raymond passed away. The sad news was broken on his Facebook page. “Hi to all the fans and people who knew Paul! This is Sandra, Paul’s life partner speaking,” she wrote. “With a desperate and broken heart, fully in tears and pains that feel like they will kill me I have to tell you that my most beautiful and beloved darling Paul Raymond has passed away today……. He absolutely enjoyed the last couple of weeks touring with UFO in the U.K. & Ireland and he was looking forward to the rest of this year’s tour.”

RIP Paul Raymond. Great memories of a great musician and a great band.

UFO 19 PIXThe tour continues (currently halted because of the coronavirus). The official statement after Paul’s passing was: “On April 13, 2019, the UFO family got the tragic news that our bandmate Paul Raymond had died of a heart attack. It had been just a week since we finished the first leg of our Last Orders tour in the UK. While mourning his loss, sadly we also had to face the reality of what to do with the band. We feel moving forward with the tour is the right thing to do. We all know this is what Paul would have wanted us to do. We are therefore very pleased to announce that our friend and former bandmate Neil Carter has agreed to join us again and take over the keyboards/guitar and vocals slot for the remainder of the tour…. We want to make sure that all our amazing fans get a fantastic experience out of it one more time.“

The current lineup of UFO is Phil Mogg (vocals), the excellent Vinnie Moore (guitar), long standing member Andy Parker (drums), Rob De Luca (bass) who plays a similar Gibson Thunderbird bass to Pete Way, low down on his knees in true Pete Way style and returning member Neil Carter (guitar).

Setlist: Faith Healer (Sensational Alex Harvey Band song as intro); Mother Mary; We Belong to the Night; Messiah of Love; Ain’t No Baby; Lights Out; Baby Blue; Only You Can Rock Me; Burn Your House Down; Cherry; Love to Love; Makin’ Moves; Too Hot to Handle; Rock Bottom. Encore: Doctor Doctor; Shoot Shoot

UFO Newcastle Academy 25 April 2015

UFO Newcastle Academy 25 April 2015
ufolpUFO 2015 are Phil Mogg (vocals and original, and only constant, member since 1969), Andy Parker (drums, and also a member of the original band in 1969), Paul Raymond (joined in 1976, and a veteran of 60s bands including Plastic Penny and Chicken Shack), Vinnie Moore (guitar and a new guy, who has only been with UFO for 12 years) and Rob De Luca (bass since 2008). The downstairs area of Newcastle Academy was packed with a mix of rock fans from the older generation and a good smattering of younger rockers. Good to see that these guys still attract a cross section of discerning music fans. They start with “We Belong to the Night” from their 1982 Mechanix album, which I am not that familiar with, and is a great opener. Phil Mogg looks and sounds great, and the rest of the band are rocking from the word go. Like many fans, I’ve come primarily for the classics, and I haven’t got long to wait. Four songs in and “Lights Out” hits us right between the eyes. The modus operandi seems to be thus: a classic UFO rocker, then a couple of new or less well known songs, followed by another classic. The great songs keep coming: “Only You Can Rock Me” (the guy to my left is shouting “Turn It Up”; which I definitely agree with), “Love to Love” (that one has always been one of my favourites; I’m a sucker for ballads), and “Rock Bottom” closes the show. We all know what is coming. You can’t have a UFO gig without “Doctor Doctor” and this one is no different. The young girl to my right (she can’t be more than 20) goes crazy, playing air guitar and shaking her head like it might just come off. “Shoot Shoot” send us on our way. The old guys really are the best, you know. A great gig. Only two things could have improved it. More volume (the guy on my left was right). And I miss Pete Way. Don’t get me wrong, the new bass player is fine, and couldn’t have done any better, but for me Pete Way was the soul of this band. Hope he’s ok. He hasn’t been so well, but I read that he is alright now and working on a solo album.
Setlist: We Belong to the Night; Fight Night; Run Boy Run; Lights Out; The Killing Kind; Venus; Only You Can Rock Me; Burn Your House Down; Cherry ; Love to Love; Messiah Of Love; Makin’ Moves; Rock Bottom
Encore: Doctor Doctor ; Shoot Shoot
PS the image (which I may have used before, and hence you may have seen before) is of a signed copy of the classic UFO lp Phenomenon, which I picked up at a car boot sale for 50p many years ago. Who knows if the signatures are real, put they look pretty real to me and I like to think that they are.

Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1980

Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1980
readingpaper80DJs: John Peel, Bob Harris & Jerry Floyd
By 1980, the Reading Festival had become a heavy metal extravaganza. Headliners were Whitesnake, UFO and Rory Gallagher, with a full supporting heavy rock cast including new up-and-coming NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) bands Def Leppard and Iron Maiden. It was the 10th anniversary of the festival being at Reading, and the 20th anniversary of the national jazz and blues festival.
Friday line-up: Red Alert (a heavy rock band, I think and not the North East punk band of the same name); O1 Band; Hellions; Praying Mantis; Fischer Z; 9 Below Zero (a great R&B set); Krokus; Gillan (always a good solid set); Rory Gallagher.
The highlight of Friday was, without a doubt, the reappearance of Rory Gallagher. Rory was a hero of mine, a class act, an amazing guitarist, and always came over as a regular down-to-earth guy. By 1980, Rory had moved to a harder rock sound, dropping many of the classic bluesy tracks which had been staples of his set throughout the 70s. So he was no longer playing Bullfrog Blues or Messin’ with the Kid, as part of the main set, although he would sometimes play one or two of them during the encore. Instead his set was focussing on tracks from his most recent albums; Top Priority, Calling Card and Photo-Finish. But these are minor quibbles; Rory’s performance at Reading in 1980 was, as always, outstanding.
Rory setlist: I Wonder Who; Follow Me; Wayward Child; Tattoo’d Lady; Bought And Sold; Country Mill; Hellcat; Out On The Western Plain; Too Much Alcohol; Going To My Hometown; Moonchild; Shadow Play
Saturday line-up: Trimmer and Jenkins, Quartz; Writz; Broken Home (featuring Dicken from Mr Big); White Spirit (North East NWOBHM heroes featuring Janik Gers); Grand Prix; Samson (the drummer played from inside a cage!); Pat Travers Band; Iron Maiden; UFO
Highlights were Pat Travers who played an intense set, Iron Maiden with original singer Paul Di’Anno at the time of the anthemic “Running Free” and headliners UFO. UFO had released their eighth album “No Place to Run” and the line-up was Phil Mogg (vocals), Paul Chapman (guitar), Paul Raymond (keyboards), Pete Way (bass) and Andy Parker (drums). I was a fan at the time and it was good to see them headlining, and hear heavy rock classics like “Doctor Doctor” and “Lights Out” and more gentle tracks like “Love to Love”.
UFO setlist: Lettin’ Go; Young Blood; No Place to Run; Cherry; Only You Can Rock Me; Love to Love; Electric Phase; Hot ‘n’ Ready; Mystery Train; Doctor Doctor; Too Hot to Handle; Lights Out; Rock Bottom; Shoot Shoot
Sunday line-up: Sledgehammer; Praying Mantis; Angelwitch; Tygers Of Pantang; Girl; Magnum; Budgie; Slade; Def Leppard; Whitesnake
readingprog80Sunday belonged to two bands: Slade and Whitesnake. Slade first. Metal legend Ozzy Osbourne was billed to play on the Sunday with his new band Blizzard of Oz, but he pulled out at the last minute and was replaced by Slade. I have already written about Slade’s amazing performance, and have reproduced some of my previous post here. Slade appeared after glam heavy metal band Girl, and just before NWOBHM heroes Def Leppard. The field wasn’t that full as Bob Harris announced that Slade were taking the stage. Their entrance was greeted with a hail of cans. Noddy wasn’t phased at all by that, and asked everyone if they were “ready to rock”. And then they launched straight into “Dizzy Mama”. And then it started to happen. Slowly at first, the crowd began to cheer. People wandering around the outskirts of the site started to run towards the stage. Slade knew they had to win the crowd over and were working so hard, rocking so hard, and playing the hits. The area around the stage was soon completely rammed and the whole field was going crazy. Amazing. Slade nailed it, and in the space of one hour made sure that they were well and truly back. Dave Hill: “One heck of an experience, ‘cos I wasn’t going to do that gig. Slade manager Chas Chandler talked me into it…the confidence came when there was a reaction, as it built and built, sort of got bigger and bigger. I mean getting that lot to sing “Merry Xmas Everybody” was amazing.” The event was recorded and a few tracks were released as an EP.
Def Leppard appeared after Slade and didn’t go down too well with the crowd. Joe Elliott: “The legend about us getting bottled off at Reading 1980 is a myth really – we got an encore at Reading. We probably had six or seven bottles of piss thrown up – and maybe a tomato – but it didn’t put us off. That ‘backlash’ was all blown out of proportion. We’re living proof that bad reviews make no difference.” Actually they were pretty good.
Whitesnake consolidated their position as worthy festival headliners. They’d closed the festival the previous year, despite not receiving top billing in the pre-festival publicity. This year, however, their headline status was clear, and they deserved it. They had just released Ready an’ Willing their third studio album, which reached No. 6 on the UK Albums Chart, and featured the hit single: “Fool for Your Loving”. This was a great Whitesnake performance; their set now included classic Purple tracks “Soldier or Fortune” and “Mistreated” and new favourites the aforementioned “Fool for Your Loving”, along with “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” and “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City.”
Whitesnake setlist included: Sweet Talker; Walking in the Shadow of the Blues; Ain’t Gonna Cry No More; Love hunter; Mistreated; Soldier of Fortune; Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City; Fool for Your Loving
I got back to the camp site after Whitesnake and discovered that someone had nicked my tent 😦 Oh well, you can’t win them all. It was a cheap crappy tent anyway. This my last visit to Reading. The following year my mates and I decided to stay up North and attend the Rock on the Tyne festival, and once the annual cycle of attending Reading was broken, we never returned. For me, family and the pressures of parenthood kicked in, and the heavy metal dominance within the line-up made the Reading festival seem a little less attractive. I’d been 9 years in a row, seen the emergence of Quo, Genesis and Thin Lizzy, the re-emergence of Slade, great sets by the Faces, Rory and Yes, festival favourites like Edgar Broughton and Hawkwind, my personal favorites like Stray, the introduction of punk and new wave to the bill, and the recent growth in popularity of (new) heavy metal. Over the years I have toyed with the idea of returning to the Reading festival, or going to the more local Leeds festival, but have never got round to doing so. I suppose I fear that if I do, I will feel too old, and too out of place 🙂 I had some great, crazy times at Reading; maybe it’s best to leave the memories as they are. If I did go along, it could never be the same as when I was young.

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975

The Reading Festival 22nd – 24th August 1975
reading75flyerThe Reading Festival hit its peak of success in the mid ’70s, and the 1975 festival sold out in advance. Although the previous years’ festivals that I had attended all seemed pretty full, you were still able to roll up and pay at the entrance. In 1975 the success of the festival and the draw of bands like Yes and Wishbone Ash ensured the site was completely packed, with hardly any room to be found in the campsites and car parks.
Friday line-up: Stella, Judas Priest, Wally, Kokomo, UFO, Dr Feelgood, Hawkwind. Judas Priest were an up and coming heavy rock band and were gigging constantly, as were UFO. Kokomo were a jazz/rock/funk outfit who were very successful during the ’70s. But the big success of Friday (and arguably the entire weekend) was Dr Feelgood, who were a massive hit with the festival crowd; Wilko and Lee being on red hot form. I was with a couple of guys who had recently become big Feelgood fans; “Back In The Night” had just been released and they were constantly singing it in my ear. “All around visible signs of the Doctor’s now-massive popularity – such as the many home-made banners (“Feelgood”, “Wilko” et al), the rapturous reception, the sea-of-weaving arms” (NME, 1975). “When Dr Feelgood stamped off they had within an hour, transformed this alfresco association into a tiny, sweaty, steaming R&B club. Charisma is too weak a word to describe what the Feelgoods had going for them that night.” (Brian Harrigan, Melody Maker, August 30, 1975). Hawkwind were ok, but it was cold, and they found it difficult to follow the Feelgood’s storming set.
readingprog75Saturday line-up: Zzebra, SNAFU, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, Kursaal Flyers, Thin Lizzy, Alan Stivell, Heavy Metal Kids (billed simply as “Kids” in the programme), Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Supertramp, Yes.
My memories are of Thin Lizzy delivering an excellent set as always; they were gradually building up their own following and would soon break through to become massive; The Heavy Metal Kids being as OTT as ever; and Yes, who were amazing. I must also mention the Kursaal Flyers, who are sadly often forgotten in the history of pub rock; they would hit the charts in the following year with the great pop single: “Little Does She Know” (“I know that she knows that I know she’s two timing me”). Supertramp were on the verge of mega-success; they had hit the charts with “Dreamer” and had a considerable following. I was, and remain, a big Yes fan and their performance at Reading came at a point where the band were at the peak of their success. I recall it being very cold, with epic versions of “Close to the Edge” and “And You and I”, and a great version of “Roundabout” as an encore (very late and off to our tents). A bootleg exists of Yes’ set that night: Sound Chaser; Close To The Edge; And You And I; Awaken; The Gates Of Delirium; I’ve Seen All Good People; Ancient; Long Distance Run Around; Ritual; Roundabout.
reading75Sunday line-up: Joan Armatrading, Babe Ruth, String Driven Thing, Climax Blues Band, Caravan, Soft Machine, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Wishbone Ash. My memory of Sunday is of Wishbone Ash. Like Yes they were enjoying massive success at the time, and also like Yes they played a set of pure class, with the twin guitars of Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield soaring through the cool, late Sunday evening.
Our DJs for the weekend were once again John Peel and Jerry Floyd. The weather was cold, with some rain, and the beer can fights were constant throughout the weekend. The festival had always been an organised, carefully planned event, but was becoming even more commercial. The nature of the festival, and its line-up, would transform further in the years which followed; with the emergence of punk and the re-emergence of heavy metal through the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal). Any elements of the jazz festivals of the 60s had also disappeared.
Thanks to BaldBoris for allowing his image of the festival to be used through the WikiMedia Commons licence agreement.

Deep Purple Knebworth 1985

Twelve years after I last saw them, the classic Deep Purple line-up was back and playing at Knewborth. I went with my mate Dave on a trip bus from the town. The line-up for the day was very strong with The Scorpions, Meat Loaf, UFO, Mountain, Blackfoot, Mama’s Boys, and Alaska (can’t remember who they were) but unfortunately the weather was lousy. It rained and rained all day and then it rained more. Dave and I spent much of the day sheltering under a tree. At one point we found our way into an indoor bar which must have been for guests because it was empty (!) and we kept warm and dry in there. The Scorpions went down best of all the support acts, and there was a never ending two hour wait between the end of their set and Purple taking to the stage at around 10pm. I can’t remember much about the other bands, but Purple were good despite the rain. As expected they started with Highway Star and played all of the classics, along with quite a few songs from the new album Perfect Strangers. To cap it all our bus got stuck in the mud in the carpark and some of us had to push it out. We didn’t get out of the carpark until early morning and arrived back home at dawn. The things I’ve done for rock n roll…Setlist: Highway Star; Nobody’s Home; Strange Kind of Woman; A Gypsy’s Kiss; Perfect Strangers; Under the Gun; Lazy; Knocking at Your Back Door; Difficult to Cure; Space Truckin’. Encore: Speed King; Black Night; Smoke on the Water. Other memories are of some guys setting fire to the portaloos to keep warm, no screens and an awful view of the stage from the back, pretty cool lasers for Purple, and a massive firework display after Purple’s set. Happy Days.

UFO Newcastle Academy March 17th 2012

UFO Newcastle Academy March 17th 2012
Its around five years since I last saw UFO, although it doesn’t seem it. I’ve been preparing myself for the gig, by blogging about UFO during the week, and by playing their live album Strangers in the Night and their classic Phenomenon lp, of which I have a signed copy, which I found at a car boot sale for 50p many years ago! (I have no way, of course, of knowing if the signatures are genuine; but they look pretty authentic to me). I arrived at the Academy early, just after 7pm so that I could catch support act The Heavy Metal Kids. I was intrigued to see what the new incarnation of the Kids would be like, particular without the charismatic Gary Holton. I’ll blog on them separately later this week. They were on stage when I arrived; Saturday gigs at the Academy start and finish early, as the venue turns into a night club at 11pm. UFO came on stage just after 8pm. By then the venue was packed, and the crowd gave the band a great Geordie reception. They started with Mother Mary; the set was a mix of old and new with all of the old favourites featured. Phil Mogg is lean and fit, and his voice is as strong as ever. Old timers Paul Raymond (keyboard and second guitar) and Andy Parker (drums) are still there alongside, and (now well established in the band) guitarist Vinnie Moore played some great solos, and easily matches up to the legend of Schenker and Tonka. Stand outs for me were Only You Can Rock Me, Love to Love, Lights Out and, of course, Doctor Doctor, which is one of my all time fave rock songs. Great night; from a band that never ceases to amaze. Setlist: something like (although I may well have the order wrong): Mother Mary; Let It Roll; Fight Night; a couple of songs from the new album; Wonderland; Only You Can Rock Me; Love to Love; Hell Driver; Venus; Too Hot To Handle; Lights Out; Rock Bottom. Encore: Doctor Doctor; Shoot Shoot.

UFO live Redcar Coatham Bowl 1984 and Newcastle Academy 2006

UFO live Redcar Coatham Bowl 1984 and Newcastle Academy 2006
UFO reformed in 1984 after a short break. The new band consisted of Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Gray (ex Hot Rods and Damned) on bass, and the wonderfully named Atomic Tommy M on guitar. Davey and I went to see them at their Redcar Coatham Bowl gig in December 1984. I remember being intrigued by Atomic Tommy who was a manic Japanese guitarist. Actually they were pretty good, played the usual favourites and we all went home smiling. Then followed a long gap before I saw the band again. I’d all but forgotten how great UFO were, apart from times when now and then I would put Phenomenon on the turntable and play Doctor Doctor; which would remind me of a misspent youth and happy nights of a long long time ago.
So……roll on over 20 years and I’m back in Newcastle, this time the Mayfair has closed and the equivalent (if there ever could be one) is the Academy, and I’m seeing UFO again. And it was great. The power, the rock n roll, the melodies were all there. Doctor Doctor, Lights Out, Only You Can Rock Me, Love to Love. You can’t get much better for a night out. Roll on Saturday. UFO here I come. Is it really 6 years since last time? The years are catching up with me…Doctor Doctor please….

UFO Newcastle City Hall 1980s

UFO were touring constantly throughout the early 1980s, coming to Newcastle City Hall once or twice a year. The band released a number of albums throughout the period, several of which scored in the UK charts. However, the band had already recorded their best tracks in the 70s, including Doctor Doctor, Lights Out, Love to Love, Only You Can Rock Me, and Rock Bottom. The live double album Strangers in the Night captured UFO at their live best, and is often rated as one of the best live albums of all time. The shows at the City Hall were always great nights. Phil Mogg is a great show man; I can picture him now singing “Lights Out in Newcastle” and “Misty green and blue, love to love to love you”; the entire City Hall singing along with him. The UFO line up changed quite a lot during this period, with a couple of key members leaving the fold. First keyboard player Paul Raymond left, to be replaced by Neil Carter. Then original bass player Pete Way left to form Fastway with Motorhead’s Fast Eddie and then Waysted. At the time, I remember thinking that Pete Way’s departure marked the beginning of the end. Pete was so central to the band’s sound and their stage show, prowling around the stage with his bass slung low around his knees; it just wasn’t the same without him there. But continue they did recruiting Paul Gray from the Hot Rods and the Damned to take the bass slot. I also saw UFO headline the Reading Festival in 1980, topping the bill over Iron Maiden. 1980 was very much a New Wave of British Heavy Metal year for Reading, and UFO pulled their weight alongside the newer heavy metal bands, playing a great set on the Saturday night. My tickets and programmes tell me that I saw UFO at least a dozen times in the 70s and 80s, and I honestly can’t recall any of those gigs being anything but great. They always delivered. By 1983, UFO had decided to disband and the 1983 tour became a farewell event. So came the end of a great run of concerts by a great band. I went along to that last City Hall gig thinking I would never again see UFO play Doctor Doctor. However I should have known that the band wouldn’t stay away for too long, and a year or so later Phil Mogg would be back with yet another UFO line up. I’ll report on that line up in another post. I’m quite getting into UFO again, and I’m looking forward to seeing them later this week. I must look out my copy of Strangers In The Night!

UFO in the 1970s

UFO are a much under rated rock band. I spent many nights in the 70s and 80s at UFO gigs. They are appearing at Newcastle Academy next Saturday, and I intend to go along and see them, so I thought I would reminisce on UFO gigs past this week.
I first saw UFO in 1972 at Newcastle City Hall at a free gig which local promoter Geof Docherty put on, as a thank you to fans. Support came from local band Beckett, featuring Terry Slesser, and Melody Maker poll winner Lloyd Watson. At that point in 1972 I think Pink Fairies’ Larry Wallis was playing guitar with UFO. I remember the show being pretty wild with some long guitar solos, and Phil Mogg or Larry Wallis (can’t remember which) climbing up the speaker stack and onto the balcony of the venue. The music at this time would have been drawn from the first couple of lps, and was quite spacey, psychedelic stuff. The next few times I saw UFO was at Sunderland Locarno, Newcastle Mayfair, and at the 1974 reading Festival. By then Michael Schenker had joined the band and they had released the classic album Phenomenon, followed by Force It and Lights Out, featuring such great songs as: Only You Can Rock Me, Doctor Doctor, Love to Love, Lights Out, Rock Bottom, and Shoot Shoot. There was nothing better than a Friday night in a packed ballroom watching Schenker, Mogg and Way play Doctor, Doctor. Great guitar intro, and first class melodic heavy rock. By 1979 UFO had graduated to playing Newcastle City Hall, and Michael Schenker had left the band to be replaced by Paul Chapman. I’ll report next on some of those City Hall gigs which took me into the 80s.