A pleasant but cool evening heralded a very, very special evening in the Limelight Belfast. Tonight would see, for the very last time, UFO land and perform as they continue their “Last Orders” 50th Anniversary tour. With them tonight was TARA LYNCH in support.
As the crowd slowly filled the hall, it was strange to see so many claiming their spot close to the front. These people were more than willing to stand and stay through the support for over an hour to be as close as possible to UFO when they come on stage.
And as the time allotted arrived on came TARA LYNCH. The strange part here was few knew who she was, so there were many quizzical faces unsure of what they might have to endure to get to UFO.
Any doubts about this newcomer was more than beaten into submission and kicked right out of the Limelight as soon as this siren of the guitar started.
Everyone was gobsmacked, jaws dropping and incredulous that this woman, who very few to no one had heard off had such a powerful clear and unique voice but also delivered such superb guitar work, caressing and pounding the frets with utter skill. “Exit The Warrior”, the first song was all it took. And not even the whole song. Everyone there was mesmerised.
Next up was “Evil Enough” and “Trustless”. Proving that the first song was not a one off. TARA LYNCH shone on stage in every way possible. It was like being at the birth of the next guitar superstar, and Malmstein and Satriani have serious competition on their hands, even more so because Tara has a voice to belt out the lyrics too.
Then came “Kringeworthy” and “Unbreakable” as the crowd already there, as well as those just arriving, became even more captivated and entranced by this goddess of rock holding court on stage. And it was plain to see she was loving being up there. And the crowd were loving her being up there. Then, almost unheard of in these parts, as Tara announced her last song of the night would be “Antidote”, there was a very audible groan of disappointment from a now very full room. Everyone was genuinely sad that her performance was coming to an end. If that isn’t an endorsement, with the headliners being none other than UFO, then what is?
What a performance. Those who decided to hang back until the headline act should be kicking themselves for doing so, as they missed something very, very special indeed.
TARA LYNCH has just released her first album “Evil Enough” and that is an immediate necessary buy right there, after witnessing what she did. It didn’t hurt either that she sported a wonderful pair of Shamrock laden socks either! So she does her research and understands her audience.
The Last Orders bell was rung and with a triumphant easy swagger, one by one, the members of UFO came onto the stage. The roof almost lifted off the Limelight without a note played. The place was completely packed and Phil Mogg, Paul Raymond, Andy Parker, Vinnie Moore and Rob De Luca were the reason why.
With little time to think that standing in front of you was a power house of rock for the past 50 years they blasted ion with “Let It Roll” and “We Belong to the Night”. Phil jokingly referred to the stage as thankfully smaller than the one in Dublin thus saving him from having to Riverdance on to stage. He was smiling from ear to ear, at peace and fully relaxed to be in front of a sea of faces. After delivering a pounding “Messiah of Love” Phil once again showed he was a mischievous man as he turned to the audience once the photographers were out of the pit and said with a wink and a smile that he could rock out with his moves, now the TOGs were gone. And rock out he did.
Though it was to be expected that a band like UFO should be able to deliver a good performance, a band on the go this long could be on their last legs, so to speak. Especially as the drummer, Andy Parker, was going to turn 72 the next day. With “Ain’t No Baby”, “Lights Out”, and “Baby Blue” they proved to everyone there that UFO, beyond any shadow of a doubt, were as fresh a rock band now as they were 50 years ago. Tight, pounding tracks, and a perfect light hearted performance as if they had their best friends round to have a blast of a party. Phil’s vocals sounded as clear and crisp as an 18 year old (he is about to turn 71), the guitar work of Vinnie was stratospheric, Rob de Luca’s bass work was mesmerising, incredibly compelling, Paul Raymond’s rhythm guitar and keyboards were on point and, of course, Andy Parker’s drumming was so energised it could have been plugged into Ballylumford Power station to top up Belfast’s electricity needs for a week.
The place was completely packed, so you had to just have sympathy for anyone near the front if they needed to go to the toilet or the bar. Yup, it was that jam packed to see one of the last performances of an incredible band. So much so, the Motley Crue movie “The Dirt” had one of their posters on show – though blink and you might miss it.
The crowd heaved and swayed like a roiling, tumultuous sea as Phil, Vinnie, Paul, Andy and Rob delivered “Only You Can Rock Me”, “Burn Your House Down”, “Cherry” and “Love to Love”. All to a rapturous audience. The interplay between band and audience was a beautiful thing to behold, as it all seemed to just be a joyous occasion where you could leave all your troubles outside the door and right now, in the moment, you were going to rock your socks off. This was indeed a very special night of rock and everyone was loving it.
Then came “Makin’ Moves” and “Too Hot to Handle” which had a little bit of “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” thrown in (we se what you did there, Vinnie!), before the final set song of the night “Rock Bottom”. UFO left everyone spent. Emotionally, mentally and physically. This was a tight, professional, and light hearted performance that just hit the right buttons at the right time. The place shook with a roar of applause and appreciation. No one was without a smile on their face and love in their heart. But wait…….
Of course, the encore! The pause though gave ample opportunity for all to fill their lungs and chant as loud as their worn out voices could “UFO. UFO. UFO”.
Out they duly came and created a tidal wave of ecstasy as they pounded out a perfect rendition of “Doctor Doctor” before capping it all off with “Shoot Shoot”, and a smidgen of “LA Woman”, which saw Vinnie drop into the pit and run along with his guitar up to the front row allowing them to have a fleeting strum as he went by. What a showman.
The night was going to be special. That was in no doubt. UFO were going to be the best version of your favourite cake. However, there was a perfect cherry on top with the addition of Tara Lynch. This was an incredibly special night, even if it wasn’t the last time UFO would be playing in Belfast. It’s a show you could see again and again without ever getting bored. Both bands were on top of their game, delivering better than solid performances, energising the crowd beyond what you would normally expect.
If you can get to see UFO and Tara Lynch, then go. No second thoughts. You have to see them. It is, without going overboard, a fantastic experience that will have you going home fully satisfied and talking about it for days.
Review by Ivor Whitten, Happy Metal Geek
Photos by Darren McVeigh, Metal Planet Music