How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Like Midge Ure

It's officially happening - we see Midge Ure in two weeks…

It’s officially happening – we see Midge Ure in two weeks…

Well, after much deliberation and weighing in with my wife and friends as well as commenters on PPM, the decision was made to accentuate the positive and put to rest my angst regarding Midge Ure. I’ve come to the realization that it seemed petty of my to grouse about him to the extent that I did. Kind of small of me, really. If I haven’t enjoyed much of his last 30 years of work, that must weigh against the first five years of it where he was one of the brightest lights in my musical universe. His accomplishments between the years of 1976-1985 should rightly be the stuff of legend.

  • teen pop stardom in the UK with the prefab group Slik – 1976
  • New Wave band The Rich Kids formed after Glen Matlock got the ouster from the Sex Pistols – 1977-78
  • Visage formed as studio project to refine nascent New Romantic sentiment into dancefloor fillers – 1978-1982
  • Fronting a Foxx-free Ultravox who achieved widespread success [except in America] – 1980-1986
  • Band Aid Trustee #2 who was Bob Geldof’s right hand man on that project – 1984-current

I’ve passed up earlier Ure appearances in Atlanta. In 1993 he opened for Howard Jones, but I had no idea of this, or else I would have driven there for it. As late as January 17, 2015, he was playing Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta with Murry Attaway [!] opening but I could not muster the trip for Midge Ure with acoustic guitar. Even after all of these years and not seeing him. Besides, driving on a trip from my home in the dead of winter is no game to be playing. Getting stranded in or out of town would be disastrous. When I saw that this time he was touring with a band, then was when the idea began forming that maybe I should finally see this guy who is on about 250 discs in my home!

midge-ticket

midge ure - callofthewildUK12AThe knowledge that he was playing music from his entire career electrically, meant that I would probably love at least half of it. There’s even the possibility that I might like some of the later material in new arrangements for his backing band this time out. Hearing material live and electric from “Vienna,” “Visage,” “Rage In Eden, and “Quartet” will undoubtedly be justification for attending right there. I have a feeling I will be there with a big dumb grin on my face as he hits the Midge Ure sweet spot. And quite frankly, the song that I am most wanting to hear from Mr. Ure now is not even on those albums. It’s his 1986 non-LP single “Call Of The Wild” that after deciding to attend this show, I simply cannot get out of my cranium!

Recently, I played my digitized copy of the awe inspiring 12″ single mix of this cut for about an hour and I’m still not quite sated. Hopefully he will have this one in the set list. The first show on this 2016 leg of his North American Tour begins tonight at the Revolution Bar + Music Hall in Amityville, NY. I’ll be interested in peeking at the set lists that surface inevitably on the web once that tour gets underway. Join us later for more Midge Ure coverage. This has been a long time coming for me and I’m beginning to get a little excited at the notion of seeing him.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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10 Responses to How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Like Midge Ure

  1. JT says:

    I was on more or less the same page as you regarding all things Ure (with the sole exception of the fact that I kind of like Answers to Nothing), and was lo thinking that I should go see this tour since I’ve never properly seen the man live (I glimpsed him performing Fade to Grey through a slit in a fence in like 1991… long story). But he’s only touring with a bassist and a drummer this month. Not sure how those old Ultravox tunes are going to go down with a beat box and the drummer playing synths (or whatever they decide to do with the arrangements).

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – For some reason your comment got caught in the spam filter. For that matter, so did a comment I was just I the middle of making [see below], which is how I found it!

      I just now saw a clip online of rehearsals from 2 days ago: “All Stood Still” with Midge on guitar, synth player [doubling on bass], and drummer. Sounded pretty good! In fact, I’m getting excited. You should go! You’ve never seen him live either [apart from the long story I’m interested in hearing]. Especially since you won’t incur several hundred dollars in travel expenses. You only need $25 and a few hours free. Okay, I just checked out live clips. Against my policy! “Passing Strangers.” It was kind of exciting seeing just the three guys trade off, just like the early days of Ure in Ultravox. All guitars at first. Sequenced synth riff middle eight and Ure switched from guitar to keys to play the the solo only to rip back into guitar at the climax of the middle eight. MIDI and ProTools can make concerts kind of perfunctory these days, but grind it down to three guys and it’s still can get exciting. Ure is still using split second timing to pull this off and for me, it was the most exciting aspect of pre-MIDI Ultravox clips I’ve seen. Sure, he could show up with a laptop and still sound good, but it’s great that he isn’t.

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  2. Echorich says:

    I’m afraid the 2009 Ultravox Rage In Eden Tour would have been the last time I might have wanted to see Ure or the band. For the original band to focus on that period of their Imperial Period would have been a treat, but Ure on his own has never really troubled me. I’ve never really cottoned to the idea of one member of a band taking on that band’s music in a solo arena. I’m sure there are some that can do it well, but it’s more a curiosity and sometimes a musical car crash.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I have softened my stance on Ure due to the fact that I felt like I was overcompensating in my negativity. I felt like I was bullying the guy, and while he had done almost nothing in 30 years that I liked, I felt that the first five years of my history with him should still count for something. At the time he was a huge thing for me.

      Besides, unlike yourself, I never saw Ultravox. Midge Ure singing what should at least be a third of his set list from that material will still count for something to me. We’ll see how much in two weeks. If it’s a car wreck, I’ll discuss my thoughts on it honestly. At worst, I’ll have something to reflect on, but I won’t waste any further energy in piling on the guy. That’s giving him too much pull, frankly.

      At best it could be something that could resonate significantly even as I’ve discounted the Ure era of Ultravox for several decades. This represents unfinished business and having the flexibility to meet it halfway is healthy personal growth for me. I gain nothing in being rigid. Quite the opposite. Of course, I still reserve the right to discount his [or Simple Minds’] descent into busking! A man’s got to know his limitations!

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      • jordan says:

        Congrats Monk on going.You made the right decision.Having now seen the set list,it is nearly all Ultravox and a decent selection at that,including Call of the Wild.His voice is in strong form based on video.Rooms are full.The three of them seems to be doing their best with the limited instruments they have,the basics.

        Echorich.I sort of know how you feel,seems a bit cheap.A band is the sum of its parts but the fact is the singer/songwriter always seems the be the focus point and that allows him or her to go solo and still perform band songs in a successful way.In most cases,you can remove the bass player or drummer and people would not care.Some examples where I have been satisfied going to a show but without all the original full band:
        Kraftwerk (Only Ralf) ,David Gilmour solo,Roger Waters solo,Chameleons Vox (Only Mark) Dave Gahan.

        Now do not get me going on the SM acoustic CD.Very sad.Although it is well known that nearly all songs start on an acoustic guitar or piano.For me,SM was always about the electronics and power.I stopped with them in 1985.

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  3. Vlad says:

    Hi, received your reply on NWO but thought I’d comment here – for more replies :o)

    Actually I wanted to advise you to go see MU but seeing your decision made (and explained this thoroughly) I can only applaud. I’m rather envious as well, having missed Ultravox (reformed one, of course) on two occasions and having no illusions about Midge ever visiting Russia, especially in thу current political climate. The live video recordings are the only way for me, it seems.

    Fully understand your decision to miss the acoustic MU shows – I think he wasted so much of all this precious time troubadouring across the UK and Europe. I know it was for financial reasons first and foremost but still, there were ways to do something more interesting. And while this acoustic thing may be great for several concerts or a tour or even as a sideline activity, to commit to it wholly is just a wrong way of going. Too cosy and unadventurous, especially with the CV as illustrous as his. Just shows how lost he was (and maybe still is) without a cunning and sympathetic manager.

    He seems to have his sights on America for some time, though, so you may be lucky to see him much more often now. With Ultravox seemingly dead and buried now maybe at least he’ll be treading more electrified waters now – it’s actually better for him as, I think, acoustic performing demands a better vocal range that he has (which is much more suited for a raw rock thing).

    Anyway, hope you won’t be disappointed with the show – and am looking forward to reading your thoughts on it :o)

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Vlad – You make a cogent point with acoustic sets. It’s a novelty, really for electronic rock bands like Ure/Ultravox or Simple Minds. What makes me break out in a cold sweat is when it becomes the dreaded “new direction.” And bands like that moving in an acoustic direction usually happen strictly because of money. It is -cheap- to busk with an acoustic guitar. But for artists such as these, who stood in opposition to the mainstream, it represents a capitulation that rubs me the wrong way, because the reason why I liked those bands in the first place is that they were not reflecting [boring] mainstream musical values. They reflected left-of-center values like my own.

      Smart musicians who have en electric/electronic rock reputation can get away with dabbling in the acoustic format. Bowie. Ferry. Even Heaven 17. The latter do an acoustic “Geisha Boys + Temple Girls” that sounds great, but that’s one song in their set. I never have to fear these artists moving in what I see as a fraudulent direction because they have integrity. Whereas Simple Minds, I think, will do anything that makes them money, no matter how ill-conceived I consider it to be. And if it’s a direction that requires little investment of capital, watch out! They will FULLY COMMIT to this horrific end even after 5-6 years of nearly dragging their collective carcasses back from ignominy and almost attaining something akin to greatness again. As their new album proves irrevocably.

      Midge has played acoustic for far too long. I don’t know why he chose to do another tour of North America with a band this time, but I’m excited that he did. It might just be a reaction to his last one-man tour! Hopefully, this will be a new leaf for The States and Midge Ure. With bi-polar Billy Currie going off in a huff, if Midge wants to be the standard bearer of Ultravox in their absence, more power to him.

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  4. JT says:

    Tonight’s gig in Chicago:

    7 Ultravox tunes (six of which I approved of… Dancing With Tears in My Eyes is a lame song and it sounded like shit live).

    5 solo tunes.

    1 Visage tune (guess).

    1 cover (the sole encore).

    Crowd of about 150 people or so, maybe less. Closest thing to a deep cut was New Europeans. Midge was really struggling on some of the vocals, particularly on Hymn. The two band guys were a couple of pudgy scruffy kids in jeans and t-shirts who looked like they were just plucked out of a garage somewhere. They were mediocre players. They got the job done, but they were never impressive and never really grooved. One guy played drums, one played mostly bass and a little synth, and Midge did mostly guitar and a little synth. I really really really missed Billy Currie’s solos on more or less all of the Ultravox songs. Midge clearly can’t be spending a lot of money if he’s only drawing 150 people in Chicago, but he needed to have invested in a keyboard player and better musicians overall. That said, he was friendly and charming on stage, and if you told me when I was 16 that I’d be watching Midge play from literally eight or ten feet away, I’d have died on the spot. But tonight… eh. It was fine. Just fine.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Tough on “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes.” He really had to reach on that one back then and now it must be exceptionally difficult for him to sing, but it remains probably his standard-bearer in the US market. I know it was the only Ultravox single I ever saw US Chrysalis ever release by the band with a picture sleeve. There was a “Reap The Wild Wind” 7″ commercially, but everything else [and there wasn’t much] was promo only.

      Surprised that a Chicago crowd was that modest. I see shows all the time with far fewer attendance. In fact, any gig I go to is usually criminally under attended. That said, I live in a smallish, mountain burg. Not the Third City. If Ure draws 150 in Chicago, he might ask himself some tough questions.

      It’s safe to say that the middle eight on “Passing Strangers” changed my life 36 years ago. Only Currie could do that justice and even then, only in the studio with Plank. Any live version I’ve ever heard [even with Currie] has paled in comparison. I realize going into this that it’s not going to be 1980 but it’s probably going to be my only Ultravox-esque event. I’m sure it will generate quite a discussion afterward. The Ure thread will certainly displace the current one come next week.

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