Thursday, June 15, 2023

You’re Invited to Midge Ure’s 70th Birthday Party

Sometime in the 1950s, a joke was born. “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice!”

The same can be said of the UK’s best-known live venue, the Royal Albert Hall. Although it seats only around five thousand, it is an iconic dream venue for many acts. Recently, Sparks played two nights there and told the story of walking past the venue back in the 1970s and saying, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great if, one day, we could play there like the big bands”.

Midge Ure has had a lot of practice. Born in 1953, around the time of the Carnegie Hall joke, he has played in StumbleSalvationSlikThe Rich Kids, UltravoxVisageThin LizzyBand Aid and of course as himself, releasing eight albums and regularly playing live since the early 1990s. Alongside Bob Geldof, Ure was half of the driving force behind Live Aid.

As the front man of Ultravox, Ure defined the early 1980s synth pop scene. With a heavy European influence from the likes of Kraftwerk, the band crafted songs which have stood the test of time, most notable the title track of their first album, ‘Vienna’, a song which was inexplicably kept off the number one chart spot by a novelty song, ‘Shaddap You Face’ by Joe Dolce. It seemed that more people want a song that they can sing along to at parties than a song that requires careful, thoughtful listening from a chrome armchair in a minimalist studio apartment.

Not to be put off by this embarrassing setback, Ultravox continues to evolve and shape the soundtrack of the 80s, showing that electronic music could be grand, even symphonic in scale.

In 1993, Midge Ure was one of the first artists to jump on the trend of touring with no band and stripped back arrangements of popular songs. Shifting from the rich, electronic, heavily sequenced Ultravox sound to a voice and a guitar revealed the craftsmanship in Ure’s songwriting. Some backing tracks were still used of course, but all recorded and created by Ure in his home studio. Taking questions from the audience, the shows were an intimate glimpse into a complex, intelligent artist who took subjects from everyday life and emotions that we all share and wove them into musical tapestries. Ure has often said that the song ‘Vienna’ was misinterpreted by the music journalists of the time as being a song about the grand European art movements of the 18th century when really it was just about holiday memories fading away. This is possibly a rather self-effacing interpretation, typical of a performer who delivers on a far grander scale than he would take credit for.

Another current trend for musicians is to perform entire albums, live. It’s another trend that Ure was ahead of, with Ultravox reforming in 2009 to perform ‘Vienna’ in its entirety which was also recorded as a DVD. Midge Ure toured again in 2019 to again perform ‘Vienna’ with 80s icon Rusty Egan delivering a fascinating DJ set which was part history lesson and part nostalgic time machine. Just this year, Ure has been touring with songs from the second and third Ultravox albums, ‘Rage in Eden’ and ‘Quartet’ with the promise of more to come.

Performing live for the past 30 years, sometimes alone, sometimes with minimal support and sometimes with a full band, Midge Ure has finally had enough practice for the big one - the Royal Albert Hall on 4th October 2023. Tickets went on sale on 14th June and are already selling fast with many fans saying on social media that pre-sale tickets were gone within hours. Ure is an artist who is rarely in the headlines yet thanks to his incredible longevity and variety, has secure a huge, loyal following.

This is sure to be the show of a lifetime with songs and stories spanning 50 years from an artist, incredibly, celebrating his 70th birthday with five thousand of his most loyal fans. As Ure himself says, “What do you get as a gift on your significant 70th? A birthday celebration show at the Royal Albert Hall of course. There are prestige venues and globally renowned prestige venues and RAH falls into the latter. That is the ultimate gift for a musician, one which lasts for the rest of your life.”

The ultimate gift for a musician. What better way to describe a lifetime of influence and contribution to the British and global music scene.

Peter Freeth



No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;