When it comes to classic rock done the way it should be combined with a band that refuses to rest on its laurels when it has every right to, they don't come much more consistent than UFO. The veteran English rockers proved as much again last Saturday before approximately 700 fans inside downtown San Antonio's Alamo City Music Hall, combining a slew of classics with just as many newer tunes in showcasing both ends of a career that began in 1969 and had the crowd chanting "U-F-O" on several occasions.
Led by original vocalist Phil Mogg and original drummer Andy Parker, UFO performed 15 songs, virtually split equally between the favorites and the fresher offerings in a 98-minute set that included locals Reverand Lil' Timmy and The Outlaw Revival Band as the only support act.
Opening with 1982's "We Belong to the Night," UFO jumped 30 years ahead to 2012's Seven Deadly with "Fight Night" before unveiling the first live offering of the evening from latest album A Conspiracy of Stars with "Run Boy Run" (see setlist in slideshow). Along with veteran guitarist/keyboardist Paul Raymond, lead guitarist Vinnie Moore and bassist Rob De Luca, UFO soon thereafter gave the crowd what it wanted with "Too Hot to Handle" and "Only You Can Rock Me."
Following those late 1970s tunes, Mogg finally got comfortable eight songs into the show by taking off his black jacket as UFO returned to Seven Deadly with "Burn Your House Down." Mogg didn't tell as many jokes as he did during the South Texas Rockfest at Sunken Garden Theater in 2011, when he basically doubled as a comic, as he kept the talking to a more reserved tone that concentrated on delivering a quality vocal performance. Mogg did make a reference to Justin Bieber at one point, but in the dismal din of the dark dungeon that is Alamo City Music Hall, it was difficult to make out entirely what he said. The venue's customary darkness wasn't lost on the vocalist, either, as he peered out to the crowd and followed in the footsteps of many musicians before him when he remarked, "We can't see very far." Moments later, however, that was forgotten as UFO received arguably the loudest cheers of the night with "Love to Love"-- somewhat of a surprise given the popularity of the other classics in the band's 47-year arsenal.
While the southpaw Raymond and De Luca -- who is scheduled to return to Alamo City Music Hall on Friday, May 6 when he plays in former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach's solo band that includes San Antonio drummer Bobby Jarzombek -- combined for backup vocals on stage left, it was Moore's flawless guitar work on stage right that further fueled UFO's consistency as a live act. The group's 11-minute version of "Rock Bottom" always stands out in large part to Moore's extended solo, and when the remainder of the song combines with the rest of the band, it makes for the highlight of the evening to round out the regular portion of the set.
UFO's brief subsequent departure merely gave the audience another opportunity to chant its name, and Mogg and Co. happily obliged with UFO's usual two encores: "Doctor Doctor" and "Shoot Shoot."
The 67-year-old Mogg and soon-to-be 54-year-old Parker demonstrated again that they still have it and show no signs of slowing down, much to the delight of a crowd that will always turn out for UFO as long as it continues to return to town. The band also made a special impression on opening act Reverand Lil' Timmy, who told AXS during the show, "They were the nicest band we've ever played with. They even moved their equipment around so we could have more room."
Nice guys finish last? Not in UFO's case -- where there's plenty of room for compassion among the conspiracy of stars and consistency of timeless classic rock.