Gig Review: Midge Ure at Rock City

Words: Rich Davies
Photos: Rich Davies
Friday 02 June 2023
reading time: min, words

Midge Ure returns to Rock City for the postponed Voices & Visions tour...

Midge Ure (15)

First up on stage we have India Electric Co. Consisting of Cole Stacey (vocals & guitar) & Joseph O'Keefe (violin and keyboards) with Midge’s drummer Russell Field, India Electric Co. are hard to define into any specific genre. I suppose the most obvious influence is folk, using traditional instruments such as guitar and violin, but mixing in subtle electronic influences. 

They played a short set of six tracks starting with the upbeat Only Waiting from their five track 2018 EP Tablelands. It’s bright and breezes along nicely, followed by Heimat which is simply delightful and has a Spanish feel and influence to it. In the middle of the set was an unexpected bonus, and a very different arrangement of the Bruce Springsteen hit I’m on Fire which was simply captivating. I think my favourite track however was Lost in Translation from the 2016 album The Girl I Left Behind. There’s something special about their intricate arrangements and heartfelt lyrics. 

Supporting a new wave synth artist, I wasn’t expecting this at all, but India Electric Co. are fantastic. The difference in sound was refreshing, and their style is quite unique. They were a great start to the evening. 

India Electric Co (2)

After a short turn the lights dim and Midge’s band walk out onto the stage, followed by the man himself to roars and cheers from the audience. I have to say, for a Tuesday night, there was a great turn out, and a real mix of ages in the audience, testament to the longevity of the songs. It’s funny how equipment has changed. Back in the 80s there were racks and racks of keyboards, drum machines and sequencers. Now, single keyboards sit either side of the stage with laptops.

Kicking off with the solo hit Dear God before the unmistakable keys and drum beat introduced perhaps his best known solo hit If I Was from 1985’s The Gift. Everyone was singing along. Although 38 years have flown by, Midge’s voice is still so iconic and soars, although I’m sure he wishes he’d recorded them an octave lower. The chorus is one of those designed for live shows and makes everyone singing along feel like a star. 

Midge was also a founding member of Visage along with Rusty Egan, and next up we were entertained by their most famous hit Fade to Grey (from the self-titled album Visage, 1980). I haven’t heard this song for so long, but it remains as hauntingly beautiful today as it did all those years ago. The synth intro is one of the most iconic intros of all time and the crowd were waving and nodding along. 

Midge Ure (2)

Midge talks to the crowd and picks out some of the fans to the side of the stage looking through a metal latticework pillar. He tells us that the next track is a cover he always wanted to perform, and for me it’s one of his best tracks, released in 1982 as a single. Originally written by Tom Rush, No Regrets is on his 1968 album The Circle Game. It’s perhaps best known for its covers courtesy of The Walker Brothers and Shirley Bassey and tells the tale of a relationship breakdown. Midge’s vocals are perfect on this one, and the audience all join in with the lyrics. 

My favourite Ultravox track made an appearance, with The Voice coming next. On 1981’s Rage in Eden, for me, it is the stand out track on the live album Monument, released in 1983, with it’s iconic drum-off section. Another unbelievable live track made to dance to, and with the development in modern technology, the tracks actually feel more alive now. Moving from the original one or two oscillator analogue synths to the complex modelling systems today has given new depth and life to the tracks, bringing them to a new audience. However, nothing can ever replace the iconic Scottish-lifted vocals!

The rest of the set is broken into three parts, and first up we enjoy the hits from 1981’s Rage in Eden, including We Stand Alone, Rage in Eden, and the amazing Reap the Wild Wind. There are some less well know ones in there too such as The Thin Wall and Your Name has Slipped my Mind Again. It’s great to hear these again after so long. 

Midge Ure (11)

We then delve back into 1982’s Quartet which includes Reap the Wild Wind, Mine for Life, We Came to Dance, and Hymn with its vocal opening line “Give us this day, all that you showed me. The power and the glory, ‘til my kingdom come” which has everyone shouting along.

As we hit the encore, it’s back to their most 1980 album Vienna firstly with the instrumental opening track Astrodyne. It’s great to hear this one live, before the single repeated bass note heralds the swirling synth tones introduce Vienna. Midge Ure’s voice is as amazing now as ever and we’re transported back to another world for a short time and a romantic encounter in the dark ominous surroundings of Vienna.

Finally we come to the last track of the night and what a way to end! The pace and sound could not be any different as two drum beats release the bassline as All Stood Still starts up. With its fast metronomic beat, it’s made for a sing along, and the crowd don’t disappoint with the lines "we stood still, we all stood still. Still stood still, we’re standing still."
And it’s over…. Midge thanks the crowd and we walk out into the cool night with huge grins on our faces. The music may be forty years old now, but it doesn’t feel it at all. Fresh and engaging it feels timeless. With solo material, Visage and Ultravox, it’s a night of hit after glorious hit, and one I will remember for many years.

Midge Ure performed at Rock City on 30 May 2023.


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