Midge Ure re-visited a 25 year old tour concept at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight with his current combination of a music and Q&As show. The result was a pleasant evening spent in the genial company of a man who has given us so many fine songs over the past 40 years of his career that any show is only ever going to highlight a few of them.
Some people might not be huge fans of this show format as it obviously cuts into the song performance time but, for me, I go to live shows to hear music and where possible get a better insight into the people behind the music, so this format suited me well. Questions came from modern format (social media) to old fashioned pen on paper plus some audience questions direct, and some of the questions and answers given were illuminating. In the wrong hands though this Q&A format can be a recipe for complete disaster on stage. Fortunately though, Midge Ure has that ability to instantly connect with his audience as both a musician and a human being, and in his hands the touch is gentle, humorous and informative. The format of this show also helped as although some of the set numbers had to be here, there was flexibility enough to incorporate songs from Midge’s 40 years of music as the Q&As evolved.
During the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s, Midge Ure never seemed to be far from music that I heard, whether that was in bands such as The Rich Kids, Visage and of course Ultravox, and it was nice to hear “Fade To Grey Again”. This show format is covering music from all periods of Midge Ure’s musical life and the format is very much a stripped down to acoustic format set, and of course the music of Ultravox features heavily here. My original memories of Ultravox are of course that larger format, multi-layered sound, but it was really nice to hear these songs stripped back almost to basics where there is no hiding space for them. When you do this to any song, the basics, harmony, melody and lyrics have to stand on their own, and here the true quality of Midge Ure as a songwriter is perhaps even more evident now than ever; these songs have simply stood the test of time, and so many of tonight’s audience have, over the years, taken these songs into their hearts.
Some songs of course just simply had to be in this set – “Hymn”, “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” and “Vienna” being only a few of them. With apologies to Midge Ure and all Ultravox fans, “Vienna” is a great song (and it deserved to get that UK No 1 slot it never made it to at the time), but over the years I have never been able to get Rigsby’s cat out of my mind whenever I hear it play.
So many other fine songs here too, and nice to see Midge responding to Q&A requests with “Fallen Angels”. Also nice to see the humility of Midge as a songwriter in giving credit to the many who have written songs he wished he had written including “My Mind’s Eye” by The Small Faces.
Midge Ure has had a very good (if sometimes unexpected) musical career, and it is nice to see him reaching out to encourage and support the new generation of musicians out there by giving different performers the chance to be on stage with him on tour. Here, that opportunity to be with him on stage and to open with their own set, were multi instrumentalists Cole Stacey and Joe O'Keefe. Together, they perform as “India Electric Company” and if you get the chance to hear them play anywhere near you, take it, as if any young musicians deserve the break they need, these two are them as their music and Cole Stacey’s vocals are marking them out from the crowd already. For more information on the band, their music and their debut album visit their website at http://indiaelectricco.com/
Review by Tom King