STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
Although the band UK was only together from 1977 through 1979, and in that time they only recorded 2 studio albums with different personnel on each album, the band made a significant impact in the world of progressive rock. The two primary leaders of the band were keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson and bassist/vocalist John Wetton.
The band’s lineup on their eponymous debut release (E.G., 1978) was Jobson, Wetton, guitarist Allan Holdsworth and drummer Bill Bruford. Subsequently both Holdsworth and Bruford left the band. Bruford was replaced by Terry Bozzio and they recorded the album “Danger Money” (E.G., 1979) as a trio, opting to not replace Holdsworth. The album spawned a minor hit, “Nothing to Lose,” which reached number 67 in the U.K.
Despite the release of the live album “Night After Night” (E.G., 1979) in the fall of 1979, and plans to record a new studio album in the U.S. in 1980, UK disbanded due to artistic differences between Jobson and Wetton. Although the two proposed a UK reunion back in 1995 it never came to fruition. Wetton performed with Jobson’s Ultimate Zero (U-Z) project in 2009; it was the precursor to a UK reunion tour in 2011. Along with Jobson and Wetton the UK lineup over the past 4 years has included guitarist Alex Machacek and various drummers — Bozzio, Marco Minnemann, Gary Husband and Virgil Donati.
This final U.S. tour, which includes shows in Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco, will include Jobson, Wetton and Machacek. Initially the plan was to have two drummers — Mike Mangini and Chad Wackerman. Regrettably, Wackerman had to cancel due to a family health issue, so the band will perform as a quartet, as they have done since reuniting.
After UK performed in Europe in March, Jobson answered some questions via e-mail regarding UK reuniting and this tour.
“I decided only 6 years ago to go back to live touring, after a 27-year hiatus,” said Jobson. “I had been working in television and film for most of those years, but had been made aware of the ongoing legacy and reputation of UK and how strong it still was; I also realized how many fans had only discovered UK after the group split up in 1979.
“After John Wetton guested with my solo band at a few gigs in Poland, we decided to do the rounds again, for a short while, and bring the music of UK back to our worldwide fans, many of whom were seeing the band for the first time. This is now the final round after an unexpected 4 full years of reunion tours. I can now retire the group, feeling good that we have given folks all around the world an opportunity to see what we were all about, live in concert.”
Jobson says that other than a keyboard solo, “during which I may play a couple of pieces from my solo albums, all of the music on this tour will be UK music. The set will be a good balance of material from both original studio albums.”
Jobson says that you can expect to see him playing both keyboards and violin.
“I have always had a preference for keyboards, and the music of UK is generally based around rich harmonic ideas that are best presented on keys; however, the violin is very popular and is part of my on-stage identity, so it will always have a place in any performance.”
And though Jobson said he’s disappointed that Wackerman won’t be on the tour, he said “Mike Mangini is more than enough of a drummer to cover everything brilliantly, with firepower to spare; I was simply (attempting to repeat) something fun I had already tried a couple of times with my solo band — the double super-drummer rhythm section. However, the single super-drummer rhythm section will still blow your socks off. Mike was in one of my double-drummer lineups right before he joined Dream Theater and was keen to participate again.”
He added: “The music of UK is very rhythmically complex and challenging to any drummer, so I have been lucky to have had no difficulty in attracting many of the world’s top drummers into my bands in the last 6 years. That has been great, musically, though I’ll be relieved to no longer have to deal with the logistics and expense of such elaborate equipment setups moving forward.”
Jobson said he is also very much looking forward to returning to Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia, apart from being a strong progressive-rock market in general, has always held a special place in our collective hearts. We received tremendous support from WIOQ radio back in 1978 and that led to us drawing an audience of 50,000 people to Penn’s Landing on our very first tour. The Spectrum was also our first headlining arena show with the trio in 1979. It seemed fitting to choose Philly as one of only 3 final U.S. shows as a special thank you for their 37 years of support. Thanks Philly.”
IF YOU GO
What: UK 2015 Final World Tour
When: Thursday, April 23. Show time 8 p.m.; doors open at 7.
Where: World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
Ages: All ages.
Tickets: Regular, $60 – $75; VIP, $90 (includes Meet and Greet)
Info.: Check www.philly.worldcafelive.com or call (215) 222-1400. For more on UK, check, www.ukreunion.com