As with the long-awaited reunion tour last year, this compact and acoustically perfect club beneath Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge is a perfect setting for the Eddie Jobson/John Wetton-fronted UK to pay their last ever visit to the nation’s capital.
Having shone for a brief two-year period at the end of the 70s, ever-present keyboard player/violinist Jobson and bassist/vocalist Wetton have seen line-up changes and success with other projects put paid to any ambitions they had of taking UK through the decades, but interest in Japan and the US has made a second and final series of European shows possible.
Ambling onstage to Jobson’s ambient Thirty Years intro, a smattering of applause greets each member as they join in, particularly a healthy-looking Wetton who sounds in good voice. Austrian guitarist Alex Machacek plays his predecessor Allan Holdsworth’s parts perfectly as he switches from acoustic sounds to jazzy runs at the touch of a pedal, while Virgil Donati matches Bill Bruford’s subtlety and Terry Bozzio’s power when required. Eddie Jobson comes into his own with some breathtaking trade-offs with Machacek during Nevermore, giving a keyboard masterclass on the atmospheric Rendezvous 6:02 and the intense In The Dead Of Night trilogy, and dazzling every time he picks up the violin, his sublime playing accompanied by white light shining through the perspex instrument.
Having said that, Jobson’s Theme Of Secrets-based solo section goes on too long and Donati’s drum solo takes up time that could have been better spent playing Danger Money, Nothing To Lose or Night After Night. Having seen some substandard performances from John Wetton in the past, it’s uplifting to see him in such great form, singing the songs in their original key and with a punchy bass sound that best shows off his underrated mastery of the instrument.
The set ends with another oddity; Bill Bruford’s Forever Until Sunday, but just when you think they’ve mostly ignored the Danger Money album, the encore resets the balance a tad with Caesar’s Palace Blues, The Only Thing She Needs and a reprise of the already-aired epic Carrying No Cross. Tonight is tempered only by the fact that this is their final outing. Let’s hope they reconsider.