The Midge Ure Conundrum

Midge Ure rocks out… for a change

Midge Ure rocks out… for a change

Oh my. I just discovered that PPM bête noire James ‘Midge’ Ure will be mounting an extensive North American Tour on the next few weeks that sees the erstwhile Ultravox vocalist coming dangerously close to my HQ in about a month. Long-time readers may know that I sort of have a bone to pick with Ure lately. I am of several competing minds on this issue and almost don’t know what to think about this.

Ure currently tours North America on a depressingly regular basis. I use that phrase because from 1981 to at least 2001 I would have given a lot of money to see him perform a show, but it never happened. It’s been in the last few years that he’s been really putting on the mileage with regular tours, even as the disastrous [on record, at least] Ultravox reunion from 2008-2013 happened concurrently to these tours. It’s depressing to me now because I’ve lately come to the realization that I really haven’t cared for anything he’s done since about 1984. Even worse, of late the shows in The States [including a show in Atlanta last year that it would not have been too much trouble to attend] were the dreaded solo acoustic [read: inexpensive to mount] shows. If there is anything I do not want to hear is Midge Ure performing solo acoustic versions of what were at best, once electronic rock songs, and at worst, indigestible faux-Celtic sap.

Which is why the knowledge that this tour will be a rare electric jaunt across the continent for Ure has some currency with me – against my better judgement. It’s being promoted as the “Something From Everything” tour; allegedly running the gamut from his early Post-Punk days with The Rich Kids, through Visage and Ultravox, and finally to his solo material. In as much as I can’t really find value in his solo career, I still listen to the earlier material. A lot of it was quite good. Added to this potential softening of my stance was the realization last year that I may have been too uncharitable towards the guy. I was discussing Ure with a reader and I actually began to feel sorry for the guy and the hard line stance I took towards him.

When he released his last solo album, I sampled the video he released for “Become” and it completely didn’t work for me! To the point that it didn’t rate a mention at all on this blog because I didn’t want to feel like I was beating up on the poor guy. Sure, I’ve been harsh on Ure, but tough love is the best kind. Now with the tour coming to nearby Atlanta in about a month, I’m tempted to finally make the Midge Ure connection, late in the game, that I have been discounting for at least five years. But just barely.

Because as much as the notion of unfinished business, reconciliation, and good fellowship resonates with me, so does the memory of the particularly painful first Simple Minds concert I attended 30 years ago. Another favorite band with quality issues [to put it mildly] were Simple Minds, who have managed to deliver at least five good studio albums that I quite enjoyed to varying degrees in the last 30 years. Ure? None at all. Also, the realization that at least half [probably more] of the concert will consist of music I really don’t want to hear performed in any style will predominate to the point of it being an activity best avoided. Particularly when it entails traveling four hours and an overnight stay. I’ve been traveling a lot in recent months and I don’t think I can quite muster the impetus to venture out to Atlanta unless there was more then the notion of Ure performing to spur me onward, but for those of you so inclined, here are the extensive tour dates. Two legs worth!

Midge Ure | North American Tour | 2016 Leg

  • Sep 30 | Revolution Bar & Music Hall | Amityville, NY
  • Oct 01 | Daryl’s House | Pawling, NY
  • Oct 02 | Gramercy Theatre | New York, NY
  • Oct 04 | Blues and Jazz | Bethesda, MD
  • Oct 05 | World Cafe | Philadelphia, PA
  • Oct 06 | Iron Horse Music Hall | Northampton, MA
  • Oct 07 | Montage Music Hall | Rochester, NY
  • Oct 08 | Opera House | Toronto, Canada
  • Oct 09 | Magic Bag | Ferndale, MI
  • Oct 11 | Music Box | Cleveland, OH
  • Oct 12 | Martyr’s | Chicago, IL
  • Oct 13 | Shank Hxll | Milwaukee, WI
  • Oct 14 | The New Vintage | Louisville, KY
  • Oct 15 | The Earl | Atlanta, GA

Midge Ure | North American Tour | 2017 Leg

  • Jan 05 | Rickshaw | Vancouver, BC
  • Jan 06 | Triple Door | Seattle, WA
  • Jan 07 | Doug Fir | Portland, OR
  • Jan 09 | Harlow’s | Sacramento, CA
  • Jan 10 | Mystic Theatre | Petaluma, CA
  • Jan 11 | Social Hall | San Francisco, CA
  • Jan 12 | Coach House | Orange County, CA
  • Jan 13 | Roxy | Los Angeles, CA
  • Jan 14 | Casbah | San Diego, CA
  • Jan 16 | Grand @ The Complex | Salt Lake City
  • Jan 18 | Soiled Dove | Denver, CO
  • Jan 20 | 3Ten | Austin, TX
  • Jan 21 | Dan’s Sliver Leaf | Denton, TX [Dallas]
  • Jan 23 | City Winery | Nashville, TN

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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24 Responses to The Midge Ure Conundrum

  1. djjedredy says:

    I think you should give “Fragile” a listen, a return to form. Still a great artist in my opinion and , yes, I have been to one of his acoustic gigs not the best experience

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      djjedredy – I felt that “Become” was so annoying, that I did not dare to give the rest of “Fragile” a test listen. Samples I heard of the previous Ure album [“10”] had scarred me. My realization 20+ years into the game was that Ure no longer had a form to return to that meant anything to me. I think he’s a talented musician. A top notch craftsman. I’d like to see him link up with another songwriter and just sing and play. He’s got flavor to contribute, but I don’t think he can sustain the meal on his own. It could be the best thing in the world for him, but I don’t think it would happen at this stage of the game. Which is a shame because I really liked his contribution to Stephen Emmer’s “International Blue” where Emmer was driving the bus. It showed that I could enjoy contrmporary Midge Ure.

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  2. Tim says:

    I stopped buying Midge Ure material a good twenty years, around ”I See Light in the Morning Hope” or somesuch. I like his older stuff and all however I sure do share your concerns about how this could turn out. I would be amazed if any dates sell out in advance, maybe some punter taking cell phone video and posting it to You Tube could be your friend here. Finally a good use found for folks who don’t know how to holster those things….

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      tim – Gaaaah!! That was the last Midge Ure single I think I bought! An all time worst! I did the next two albums, which were miles better than the wretched “Pure,” but that doesn’t take much!

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      • Tim says:

        I saw that he did something (I’m going to get the title wrong I think) called “Under a Speilberg Sky.” Typing it now I am as speechless as I was then, What the hell? This is the same guy who helped create Rage in Eden and he’s…..ugh. He’s lost the plot.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – Yes, that was truly nauseating! And it was a single!! That album [“Move Me”] did manage to have one blast of power, the amazing instrumental track “Monster.” See! No lyrics was a plus! I swear he needs to form a band and be just voice and producer and share the writing with others.

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  3. Lanark says:

    I remember Midge Ure doing “Forever and Ever” with Slik (also “The Kid’s A Punk”… ooo-eerrrr…). I saw Midge Ure with the Rich Kids…. I saw Midge Ure perform with Thin Lizzy….! I saw him perform with Ultravox….. Back in 1983 I just kept wondering “When will it end… when will it end..?” It continues to this day… I share your sentiments and concerns PPM…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Lanark – Welcome to the comments. So it’s not just me then? This is encouraging, since I’m beginning to think that I am descending into bullying Ure. Which would be sad. As an American, I missed out on Slik but you have to admit; “Requiem,” at least until the chorus, certainly had a “Quartet” like aroma.

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  4. Thomas Williams says:

    While I can certainly feel your pain (both that of the hard decision, and not wanting to be so hard on a man who contributed so much joy in the early 80s, but has failed miserably ever since), chances to hear Ultravox material live by the original band members just don’t grow on trees anymore. So I would recommend the following stratagem.

    To whit: He has a January show even closer to your environs (Nashville). Hold off — read the reports. If it sounds like he’s turning in a decent effort, and worthwhile mix, GO — hell, I’ll meet yah there. If not, well… y’know… just write him off for another decade or two.

    With any luck he’ll play “No Regrets”….

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Thomas Williams – I will point out your error in that Nashville is 100 miles further than Atlanta from my mountain home. Also, the narrow passage through the Smokies in January between WNC and Tennessee is often unpassable due weather conditions, so I’m down on the January Scenario.

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  5. Mr. Ware says:

    Well, I can only speak for my experience with him at the Retro Futura show. Out of all the bands who played, I have to admit I had the most emotional reaction to his set. Just five songs. Including If I Was. But his band was hot, he was in great form, and the Ultravox stuff just slayed me. Belting out “Oh Vienna” with a huge group of people in 2014 was pretty surreal. And then Fade To Gray out of deep left field! Whew!! But as you say, your mileage may vary.

    Yeah, check setlist.fm and watch the YouTube contributions before taking the leap.

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  6. Echorich says:

    I gave Fragile a few attempts to sway me, but I was left, at first, unmoved and then after a second and third listen annoyed with the realization that this was even worse than Ultravox’s last attempt at an album, Brilliant. What was most annoying was that Fragile proved to me that Brilliant was a Ure album with the rest of the band in tow. I’m afraid I might be more interested in seeing the opening act in Atlanta, Black Swan Lane as they have a reasonable Post Punk feel and may include both Mark Burgess (Chameleons/Sun And Moon) and Andy Clegg (Sun And Moon, Music For Aborigines).

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – QUOTE>>What was most annoying was that Fragile proved to me that Brilliant was a Ure album with the rest of the band in tow.<<UNQUOTE

      I think you hit the nail on the head, amigo. For that reason the album actually made me angry when I listened to it. I have not touched it after reviewing it.

      Like

  7. jordan says:

    First to Mr Ware.I was at a Retro Futura show in Toronto (drove 6 hours,a waste) and thought it was awful.Mostly because of the backing band who played as if they were Motley Crue.They played the music as if it were heavy metal and the audio mix was truly horrible.My conversation with Gary Daly after the show backed my view.

    I would go see Midge at least this once.I saw his acoustic show locally a few years ago (the previous time was 1983) and though I was not a fan of the format or his music post 1985,Midge really gave it his all with plenty of stories on a very very cold day.Sure,it is the performer in him when he is playing Vienna for 10 000th time but to be that close to him,have a short conversation (which he is into) and a photo was well worth it.With a band in tow,It should be even better.When I asked him why he seems to be touring all the time,his answer was simple.I have a family to support.Honest enough.To be driving yourself in the middle of January to play to 30 people,you have to be a real pro.

    I lost all interest in Midge after 1985 and never went back but I cannot deny that from 1980-1985,Ultravox,Visage and his solo LP,The Gift,were in my head all the time.The man is a legend and very underrated at that.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jordan – Thanks for your considered opinion. You are making a good case.

      Like

    • Mr. Ware says:

      Well, the Orlando show was the final one of the tour. I don’t know what adjustments may have been made as the tour evolved, but Katrina, Midge, and China Crisis all shared the same backing band. I thought they did a superb job. The sound mix was great at the Hard Rock Live, as it usually is.

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  8. Shelf says:

    I liked Ure up until “Dear God”; however I found “Answers To Nothing” to be disappointing at the time of its release, and that effectively ended my interest.

    I’ve seen Midge Ure perform live only once: 10 January 2013 in Philadelphia, at the beginning of that US solo tour. A rumor circulating at the time was that Ure was paving the way for Ultravox to visit the US, which obviously never happened. The opening act, Right The Stars, also served as Ure’s backing band – competent enough, but no Ultravox. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of material that Ure included in the set; however, he’s clearly lost the upper register of his voice. He ended with an acoustic version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” – a couple of weeks late, but still appreciated, and very appropriate given that the US half of Live Aid was staged in the City of Brotherly Love.

    I’ll be attending the October 5 Philly stop of the current tour, but I wouldn’t drive four hours (and stay overnight) to see Ure again. However, I do like the concept of ‘Something From Everything.’ Would love to hear “After A Fashion” as a tribute to Mick Karn, but not holding my breath.

    Somewhat amusing story: when that Swatch ad with “Breathe” was airing back in 1997, my one buddy (unfamiliar with Midge Ure) heard it and commented, “Sounds like a Radiohead ripoff.” I then set him straight, explaining that Ure had been making music since Thom Yorke was in diapers.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Shelf – Thanks for the thoughts. For what it’s worth, I have decided that I will be attending the Atlanta show after discussing the notion with my wife yesterday. The feedback from friends and commenters has been helpful. Trust me. I will report back with my findings!!

      I realize that Midge has lost his top end, but he’s gained immense power over the years he never had as a younger man, so I’m fine with that. I thought he was on great form on the “Return To Eden” 2xCD/DVD. It’s my favorite of all live Ultravox recordings.

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      • Shelf says:

        Yes, Ure was in fine form on “Return To Eden” – forgot about that (thanks for the reminder – need to watch again). Happy to hear you’ve decided to go – enjoy the show!

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Shelf – If he sings “Visage” I will probably levitate.

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          • Shelf says:

            Ha! He’ll definitely do “Fade To Grey”, but if performs a track from the second Visage album, my guess would be “The Damned Don’t Cry.” And for that, I would defy gravity!

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            • postpunkmonk says:

              Shelf – Good gravy. A classic album tour that should have happened before Steve Strange died would be an “Anvil” classic album tour. Talk about hotly anticipated events! When Visage finally toured it was a shocker, and I’m saddened that they never made it over to America. There were some US dates at one point, including Chicago, but I suspect Visa hassles scuttled that notion.

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              • Shelf says:

                Couldn’t agree more, Monk – until Strange’s passing, Visage was fairly high up on my concert bucket list (along with Ultravox, although I’ve given up hope there). And no cheating by checking setlists before the Midge Ure show! There’s something to be said for surprises :-)

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