Concert Report
by Mayumi Hanyu

- UFO -
at Nakano Sunplaza, Tokyo
April 24th, 1998

Added on 05/02/1998
Changes made on 05/08/1998

Everything was sounding great. I even saw Michael smile a couple of times. I thought he was enjoying playing. At this point I don't think anybody could predict the death of UFO. After 35 minutes (I know the exact time because I have it on tape!) they finished their 7th song, One More For The Rodeo. Michael mumbled a couple of words that I believe most of the crowd did not catch, and said "I'm sorry" which was clear to all of us, then all of a sudden he took his guitar off, slammed it on the stage and walked off on the band. I could not believe that this was happening again and in JAPAN! I've always thought that this is kind of a thing that you only read about and never experience! Everybody in the venue except Michael got really stunned and gaped. The rest of the band shrugged a number of times. It was apparent that they were pretty much devastated. Phil said "I do apologize for this." and they left the stage.

After about 5 minutes of chanting, UFO/Schenker, (to my great surprise, no booing nor hissing) a guy of the promoter came up on the stage. He announced that due to Schenker's illness (unspecified), they had to cancel the rest of the show that night and would give us a full refund. After a while UFO minus Schenker came back on the stage and Pete Way apologized on behalf of the band. He said they would like to carry on, but not sure. He also said that what happened in America might have something to do with this. Everyone kept shrugging and they were very apologetic even though it was really not their fault. I was very sorry for them and for myself, too! I took 2 days off from work, flew to Tokyo for this. Talk about a nightmare!!!

My friend and I were hoping that remaining 2 shows would still take place. And we were somewhat optimistic about it knowing that they had played the remaining nights in Palo Alto. Unfortunately that hope was destroyed when I got a call from the ticket agency, telling me that those shows were cancelled and the tickets were refundable.

I cried! (literally and figuratively, nose-blowing kinda cry!!!) I had 2 more tickets for the remaining nights and one of them was at the first row! Maybe Michael was still refusing to play and never bend, or even if he agreed to play, the rest of UFO wouldn't want to take a chance after two bombshells in what, 9 days? I was very sad and felt betrayed rather than angry. And "Still I'm Sad" !!!

We, Japanese fans, have been supporting Schenker for ages and I really don't know how he could do this to us. They say "geniuses flip out once in a while" But I don't think that means he can get away with this. I learned later that he had injured his fingers, or he had a high fever. At this moment I'm not sure which. Whatever it was apparently "Rock Till You Drop" isn't in his vocabulary. The way he walked off the stage and on the band was truly unprofessional and immature! I keep remembering the scene when he smashed his guitar on the floor. It is tattooed on my brain! He broke his guitar (or does it still belong to Leon?) which breaks my heart. Unlike Ritchie Blackmore, he is NOT a guitar player who breaks his guitar on stage and that is one of the many reasons that I like him about.

I love Michael Schenker and have read most of his interviews and still keep them. His actions this time really don't make any sense. Positive Forward? Give me a break! I still love Michael and I will support him no matter what. I hope he will snap out of it very soon. But I wonder if he's ever heard of "take consequences for one's actions" and I don't mean this Palo Alto-Tokyo incident only.

What I'm afraid is that there never will be any gigs of Michael's in Japan at least with this promoter, which is the biggest in Japan. I have no idea how much but it must have been a huge financial damage for them. And I wouldn't be surprised if they gave up on Michael. It is such a shame! Plus I guess there will be no new UFO album like Phil said there would be this fall. I truly hope none of the above will happen. If it is 1979 or 1995 all over again, then we can expect this line-up once again in the future. But let's face it. I know I wouldn't want to gamble with Schenker any more if I were a member of UFO. I have been admiring their patience but I guess they've run out of it for the last time. I'm afraid the show on the Apr. 24th is the VERY LAST one of UFO unless they clear that damn contract of " No UFO without Michael Schenker in the band"

Thank you for your contribution, Mayumi.

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