UFO Live in Pittsburgh

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Sunday, October 24, 2004 @ 1:54 AM

UFO Live in Pittsburgh on Sept

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REVIEW BY: George Mihalovich, www.Aftershok.com

Ever since hearing Force It, I have been a big fan of UFO as a band and Michael Schenker as a guitarist. In my opinion, they rank with some of the most influential hard rock/metal bands ever, and I don't think you have to look very far for confirmation of this assertion. Just ask Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, or the legions of guitarists who are Schenker devotees -- many of whom are legends in their own right.

Certainly, a case could be made that the most valid work in UFO's catalog since Schenker's first departure after the classic Strangers in the Night album was Walk On Water with the original line-up. I've always felt that while it's unfortunate that bands undergo these key member changes, their new work should be judged on its own merits. Actually, I think that UFO has released some respectable material over the years with various incarnations of the band.

That stated, I attended their concert in support of their latest, You Are Here, with an extremely open mind. I was aware of the caliber of musicians that they had assembled for this tour, and coupled with the fact that they hadn't been in Pittsburgh since sometime in the 80s, it seemed like a safe bet.

The band:

Drums- Jason Bonham
The name speaks for itself, and so does his resume. Hard to recognize, sporting a more modern look with the shades and shaved head, but delivered the goods. Impressive.

Guitar- Vinnie Moore
Well-known Shrapnel records virtuoso, one of the top instrumental guitarists to come out of the 80s. Extreme respect to Michael and covered the material very well. Knew when to hang back and when to step out and show his stuff.

Bass- Barry Sparks
Joined the band for this tour due to Pete Way's well-publicized Visa problems. Currently the bassist for Dokken, impressive resume of work and chops to burn. Good fit.

Guitar/Keyboards- Paul Raymond
Solid as ever, has been a part of UFO's best work throughout the years.

Vocals- Phil Mogg
A rock legend, his voice and accomplishments speak for themselves. In his latter years, it seems to me that he is something of an elder statesman for front men. Voice still strong and a class act.

Needless to say, UFO didn't disappoint. A great show overall, very polished, but still rocking. All of the pieces fit together well, and they did justice to the material, both old and new. They offered a variety of tunes, from classics such as "Doctor Doctor," "Lights Out," "Shoot Shoot" and "Let It Roll" to songs from the new CD, including "Mr. Freeze." Throughout the show, they didn't exude a "going through the motions vibe" at all -- they played like they meant it.

As I mentioned earlier, we could argue endlessly about the relative merits (or lack thereof) of bands without the original guitarist and singer... however, as a music fan, you have to be honest and admit that these guys are top-notch. After listening to interplay among Bonham, Moore and Sparks during the extended guitar solo in "Rock Bottom," I assert that you would be hard-pressed to name a band that features musicians of a similar caliber in terms of chops and taste. This is a band that has managed to span three decades, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Definitely catch this show if it comes your way and judge for yourself.

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