Being a rock journalist (ahem...), I'm in the fortunate position of going to most gigs free of charge. Yes it's a simple set up. I'm put on the guest list and all I have to do is write a fair report of the evening out so you, the reader, can read up on what you've missed out on or for those of you that were there, relive the memories... Simples!
However, just like the career of UFO, being a gig reviewer can sometimes be a dirty job and at times things can go drastically wrong and not go according to plan. As I had a few days off work, I met up with a couple of buddies early in the afternoon for a couple of shandies.
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I don't normally start so early but as the Heavy Metal Kids were the support act tonight and it was also birthday night for a couple of other friends who I was meeting later on in the Bull And Gate pub adjacent to the Forum, I thought I would make an early start to fit everything in and have an all round jolly good night out.
The beer was flowing and so were the laughs. Come 6.00pm the boozer was getting packed with many familiar faces and both birthday boys Bryan and Paul were enjoying their birthday tipples.
Now there was no way was I going to miss the Heavy Metal Kids, a band whose music I've only just in recent years got to enjoy. A band who made some underrated classics in the seventies with that loveable rogue and sadly departed Gary Holton on the vocals. Still going strong - the Kids are back and I had been telling my mates John and Keith about the great joys of the Heavy Metal Kids and how they should check them out and off they went keen to see what the fuss was all about. "I'm just coming, I'm right behind you", I bellowed as they walked out of the pub door.
And right behind them I was, but just as I walked out the door I bumped into UFO's PR agent. "Fancy a beer Mark?"... "Oh, alright then, just a quickie", followed by another in depth chat.
On the second attempt at leaving, I opened the pub door to be met by a couple of photographers who shall remain nameless who sneaked off back to the boozer after their 'three songs' and UFO's ole mucker Reuben Archer, lead singer of melodic hard rockers Stampede.
"Ah! The professionals hard at work", I cried... "Ah! The professional hard at work", they jeered back. "Fancy a beer Mark?"... "Oh, alright then, just a quickie..."
After plenty of man hugging I knew this evening was going downhill at a rapid rate and I realised that I'd now been in the pub for five hours.
The hands on my watch will never be wonky when it comes to seeing UFO live, one of my all time favourite bands, so I was still sensible enough to get to the venue in time for them, although I did receive a little persuasive advice from MetalTalk's very own Tina Saul who had just arrived directly from work and pushed me in the right direction.
It soon became apparent that I wasn't the only one enjoying a little sherry tonight as Phil Mogg was in his typical jovial manner coming out with random 'Moggisms' throughout the evening.
One huge space missing from the stage is the backside hanging out of Pete Way's spandex trousers who has been absent from the last two tours now. Although still officially a member of UFO, one can only hope and pray that he is on the road to recovery as he is much loved and sorely missed. He bass duties fall to Rob De Luca who was a founder member of glam Metallers Spread Eagle and has been recently performing with Sebastian Bach.
The set list was very familiar to recent years although with the addition of four songs from their very fine recently released 'Seven Deadly' album. 'Fight Night' has some biting riffs from American Vinnie Moore and 'Wonderland' is a heads down stormer. 'Mojo Town' is a heavy blues number whilst my favourite, 'Burn Your House Down', has a hint of modern day Rolling Stones about it.
The place was rocking when it came to the classics of 'Only You Can Rock Me' and 'Love To Love' which featured some more man hugging from myself with those watching left misty eyed green and blue.
'Hell Driver' is an unwise choice from 'The Visitor' album but the classy 'Venus' from 'Walk On Water' are welcome additions.
The grand finale of any UFO gig heads right for the home straight. 'Too Hot To Handle' and 'Lights Out' are hands down winners but a fourteen minute 'Rock Bottom' was almost sacrilegiously ruined by including a little snippet of the James Bond Theme in the extended guitar solo.
Many fans are divided by the genius fret work of both Moore and the former Schenker, and although that was then and this is now, I do wish that UFO would give Moore another song to show off his virtuosic side.
For the encores Phil Mogg had enough of one heckler and almost offered to punch his lights out in London before delivering storming versions of 'Doctor Doctor' and 'Shoot Shoot'. Not the tightest show I've seen from UFO but as always a great experience from the veterans who, along with Thin Lizzy, pioneered melodic rock.
Afterwards at the aftershow, all of UFO were present and correct along with members of DragonForce and Ozzy's new sidekick and Firewind six stringer Gus G, not to be confused with Gus Mark the guitar tutor from Twickenham who was also here propping up the bar.
Cosmo and Justin McConville of the Heavy Metal Kids cornered me at one stage and we had a good discussion about their set list for the night.
"Mark... In your honest opinion, what did you think of our show tonight?" After some careful thinking I replied "Honestly?... I was in the pub."
'Arf 'arf boozers... See you at the bar for my next adventure, Make mine a double.
Heavy Metal Kids
I'm A Loser
Let It Roll
Burn Your House Down
Only You Can Rock Me
Love To Love
Too Hot To Handle