Midge Ure Kicks Off Tour In Amityville, NY 9-30-16

Midge Ure Kicks Off Tour In Amityville, NY 9-30-16

Scottish Singer-Songwriter Midge Ure is not necessarily a household name in the United States, but it should be. With a list of credits ranging from working with bands such as Slik, Thin Lizzy, Rich Kids, and Visage, perhaps Ure’s most crown achievement was his time as Lead Vocalist/Guitarist of Ultravox. Then again, one could argue it is his co-writing and production of the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” a now holiday classic that sold nearly four million units in the UK alone. Perhaps it is his co-organization of 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8, or his countless other charity works. Get the picture yet? The fact is, Mr. Midge Ure is a name that should be more recognized on many levels.

Regardless of commercial accolades, he has sustained a strong fanbase in The States over the past four decades. Passionate about performing, Ure has been gracious enough to continuously tour the North American continent over the past few years including 2014’s stint on Retro Futura Tour, 2015’s intimate acoustic run, the Fragile Troubadour Tour, and now his return in the fall of 2016. His first run of shows this side of the Atlantic with a full band since 2014, the tour kicked off on a damp, chilly Friday night at Revolution Music Hall down in Amityville, New York on September 30th. One of a select five shows to include support from Richard Lloyd of the highly influential band Television, the club was packed out early with fans of New Wave ready to indulge in an evening of music.

Hosted by legendary Long Island based Alternative radio station WLIR 92.7 FM’s DJ Andre, the bill also included New York based bands Color Film and and The Ritualists. Opening doors at 8 PM, the night was filled with Electronic, Dance, and New Wave based Rock from the start. With Richard Lloyd wrapping up his set just before 11 PM, the crowd hung tight as the DJ spun classic tunes from The Talking Heads, Simple Minds, INXS, and much more. Then, after much waiting, at the late hour of 11:30 PM, Ure and his band, including former Right the Stars Drummer BC Taylor and L.A. based Keyboardist Tony Solis, casually took to the stage. Working out the kinks of some technical difficulties, the distorted guitars of his 1988 track “Dear God” settled in nicely and grabbed everyone’s attention. Clearing his pipes, Ure was singing at an extraordinary level from the start while smiling and being personable with the audience, moving right into Ultravox’s “New Europeans.”

From there, it was smooth sailing as Ure and company jammed along with “If I Was” and “Call of the Wild,” setting the mood for Visage classic “Fade to Grey.” A song that fans adore, it perhaps cuts closer to the bone in wake of the untimely passing of Visage Lead Vocalist Steve Strange in the winter of 2015. Doing the track justice, Ure’s voice continued to glow, and it was so powerful that he was close to twelve inches from the microphone at points and still somehow projected his booming voice over the noise in the room. The most explicit evidence of his unwavering voice was during the riveting rendition of his 2001 tune “Beneath A Spielberg Sky.” Holding nothing back, Ure gave it all he had, and it showed in the emotion on his face, adding to the captivating feeling of the music.

Turning to more electronic sounds, “Become” was followed by more Ultravox songs such as the ear-tingling “Hymn,” “The Voice,” and “Vienna.” Having everyone completely engaged with the track selection and his sincere delivery, by the time the band broke into “All Stood Still,” everyone was moving to the beat. Happy with the results, Ure laughed and playfully stated, “We finally got one right!” Going on to reflect on the music being performed, it is difficult to believe some of these songs are approaching forty years old, including aforementioned “All Stood Still.” Regardless of their age, they still sound as potent as ever, and judging by the crowd reaction, that is not just blowing smoke. Fully immersed in the groove, the set came to a close with more Ultravox cuts like “Passing Strangers” and big hit “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes.” Uncertain if Ure would in fact offer an encore, why would anyone expect anything less as he and the band returned for an unexpected cover version of David Bowie’s “Starman.” Also one that hits home, the world sadly lost Bowie earlier in 2016, sending a shockwave through the music community. A delightful tribute to Bowie, Ure did an amazing job, and despite it being past 1 AM Saturday morning, everyone was wide awake.

The first night of a tour can always be a bit of a crapshoot; there can be technical issues, a band could be a bit rusty, or something else could go wrong. This was not the case for Midge Ure and his very talented band. Working through minor issues right away, they breezed through a fantastic set of songs. Not only was the performance tight, but Ure’s song selection was flawless, offering favorites as well as songs he admitted many have not heard live since 1992. With that said, it can not be stressed enough how silky smooth and lively Ure’s voice was from start to finish. It should also not be overlooked that he absolutely killed it on lead guitar, rocking hard and heavy at times, all while placing emphasis on the right notes at the right times. Seemingly over in the blink of an eye, the tour wraps up on October 15th in Atlanta, Georgia, but not to worry, Ure will be back for a second leg come January 2017. Do not overlook this tour, it is an experience not to be missed.

 

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Frank Malerba
frank@crypticrock.com
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