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. 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.
After a storied career spanning five decades, the future of UFO is somewhat uncertain. The Last Orders tour is officially the bowing out of Phil Mogg as vocalist for the influential rockers, and so there is a palpable sense of occasion in the Limelight tonight.
By the time the band takes the stage, the room is crammed to full capacity, with a constant pulsating wave of denim cut-off jackets approaching the bar to fuel the bellow-alongs that are soon to follow. Despite the anticipation, things start off a tad shakily thanks to some technical woes; while Vinnie Moore’s impeccable proggy lead guitar lines are gloriously prominent throughout opener ‘Let It Roll’, the vocals are severely muffled in the mix. The hiccup is quickly rectified and acknowledged by Phil himself, with the rollicking ‘Messiah Of Love’ acting as a true start for a set chock full of hits and fan favourites, every one of them elevated by a flawless delivery by those signature pipes. ‘Lights Out’ is the first bonafide anthem of the evening, with the crowd’s contribution outdoing that of Phil’s during the chorus, continuing with the power ballad bombast of the acoustic-led ‘Baby Blue’, proving that Moore’s virtuoso credentials are eclectic enough to extend beyond the UFO’s hard rock/early heavy metal template.
Throughout all this, guitarist Paul Raymond looks likes he’s having an absolute whale of a time – providing generously beefed up rhythms and looking like the 70’s never ended. Predictably enough, the intro to ‘Only You Can Rock Me’ receives one of the most vigorous responses, signalling what sounds like several hundred middle-aged rockers engaging in a moment of unified ejaculation – shout out to the clean-up team. With all jokes aside, there is an added poignancy to the performances of the closing two-punch of ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Shoot Shoot’ in knowing that the end of the band is nigh, at least in its current iteration. An ocean of raised glasses salute and howls of appreciation are directed towards Phil as he bids farewell to a grateful crowd, concluding a set that was less a gig and more a celebration of a career.
Tara Lynch Review : Ivor Whitten / Happy Metal Geek Courtesy of Metal Planet Music
UFO Review : Jonni Davidson
Photography : Marc Leach