U.F.O. with Larger Than Life

Just a couple of weeks ago, when I reviewed a Saxon show, I commented that metal was coming back with a new British invasion. That comment has now been soundly justified given U.F.O.'s three sold-out shows at the Edge in Palo Alto, CA.

I went to U.F.O.'s third show with Greg Ferguson, a long time friend of mine from the heavy metal list, who was visiting here from Maryland. We didn't have tickets to the show, but we managed to buy two from a scalper (thus providing more empirical evidence to my claim that buying tickets at the door is the best thing to do, even if the show is likely to sell out).

The opening band was Larger Than Life (that's the name, not their description, though it could be argued that they were indeed trying to live up to it). They had a good guitarist and some cool tunes, but as Greg pointed out, they were also posing a bit excessively. They were decent, and I think such bands are a good sign for heavy metal music today.

After a long wait, U.F.O. came on stage and really shredded. The band was in perfect harmony: I've never seen anything quite like it. This is a band that has great chemistry and you could tell right away that they really belong together. While U.F.O.'s song writing skills is what makes their music popular and accessible to the masses, it was Michael Schenker's guitar work that is the extraordinary thing about U.F.O..

Schenker, like many great guitarists, is in my opinion a highly underrated guitarist. In the show, he proved why he was so great: his solos were not only amazingly fast and technically superior, but also well-crafted and emotionally appealing. He managed to get the right mix of flash and minimalism. The mix at the show wasn't so great, and in particular, Phil Mogg's voice was bit drowned out, but the band provided solid backup. The set included Lights Out, Natural Thing, Electric Phase, One More for the Rodeo, Love to Love, and Mother Mary. Only two songs, A Self Made Man and Venus from their latest album, Walk on Water, were played. Doctor Doctor and Rock Bottom proved to be the perfect choices for an encore.

All in all, U.F.O. is a band that shows it still has the magic and the energy that it had more than twenty years ago. I highly recommend checking them out live.

Music ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org || April 17, 1998