Live Review: Midge Ure – @ Adelaide, Australia
Live Review: Midge Ure – @ Adelaide, Australia
Review: Craig Grant – Last time we saw Midge in town he had a full band in tow and played the thick electronic sound that he is known for with his time with both Ultravox and Visage. This time he has the India Electric Co with him as both the support act and his support band. This tour by Midge is called, ‘Something from Everything’, and is to showcase a song from each of Midge’s fourteen albums. This obviously excludes the plethora of material released from Midge’s website as well as his brief time with Thin Lizzy, but more about that later.
The India Electric Co are two blokes from Devon, England that play mandolin, piano, guitar and violin. The music they play is varied but they play traditional instruments to underpin their own songs and on the night to reimagine the Springsteen classic, ‘I’m on Fire’. The arrangement is what set these guys apart and at the end of each song there is a sort of, ‘pass-the-parcel’ where instruments are passed around, swapped and picked up. The crowd quickly warmed to them with their tales of being confused by sunshine, fear of entering the shark infested waters around Australia and raging against the price of beer. Straight forward melodies that are both modern and traditional kept the crowd totally engaged with a mix of contemporary and folk. I’ve seen many an Adelaide crowd salute support bands by retreating to the bar and ignoring them but not this time as the India Electric Co had the audience in the palm of their hand. When I last saw a mandolin on the stage of the Gov it was being hammered by the Bad Shepherds but tonight was a much more melodic affair and I have no doubt the crowd would have let them play whatever they liked for as long as they liked. Great opener and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen an audience get behind the support as quickly as it happened tonight.
Now it’s time for Midge with an acoustic set, and he is supported by our new mates from Devon. The set opens with, ‘I Remember’, ‘Flow’ and then the solo track, ‘If I Was’. Whether you are an Ultravox fan or a Midge solo fan, the opening three tracks offer something for everyone. We also see Midge looking very comfortable and far more relaxed than when he was in Adelaide previously with the full band. He also looks incredibly happy being on stage with the India Electric Co and he is drawn to them while playing, with him pairing off or to stand between the others and just watching, as enthralled as the audience are. Also warming to see that Midge is up for a chat, mostly at the expense of peely-wally Englishmen braving the Australian sun, but it’s also great to hear him discuss those moments throughout his career that defined a song or an album.
The next two tracks cover the last two solo albums with, ‘Star Crossed’, and ,’Homeland’ , introducing the hardcore ‘Vox fans to the recent works while the next two songs,’ The One’, and ,’The Voice’, remind us of the back catalogue of Ultravox. It also shows us that Midge’s voice has not diminished and sounds stronger in many ways when compared to the original recordings. He cranes his face away from the microphone as he powers through the lyric and he is up to a metre away from the mic-stand but the sound and the voice is crystal clear. The first time I saw that it was impressive but as time goes on it not only becomes more impressive it also becomes entertaining to watch the faces of some members of the audience who are seeing this for the first time.
Adelaide, being a town of ex-pats who probably arrived here after consuming the wave of new-romantics in the UK, are lapping up this performance. Almost constant touring and forty years of stage craft have the crowd enthralled. As the set progresses Midge tells us about the concept of the tour, taking a song from each of his albums and how it changes each night as the sets morphs across the continents. He also tells us that he is constantly asked if he is playing any Thin Lizzy but that’s not happening as he was just helping out Phil during the American tour bust up and was only with the band for a very small amount of time, so no Thin Lizzy. The bloke next to me shouts, ‘Yeeaah Whisky in the Jar’, and I can see Midge gaze upwards obviously looking for patience amongst the lighting rig. The wag in the crowd picks up on the body language as well but tries again, ‘OK!, Jailbreak’.
But it’s the Ultravox song, ‘Lament’, that reminds us that although Ultravox were known as an electronic band, the 1984 release introduced many traditional elements and this song when played, back in the day, was almost a dirge. It also reminds us of the sounds that Billy Currie crafted for the band and for the first time tonight you can almost see him standing there. ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’, takes us back to the Visage days and on we go through, ‘Reap the Wild Wind’, ‘Vienna’, and ,’Fade to Grey’. It’s, ’Vienna’ that has the crowd on its feet, not because of the stature of that song, but the performance on violin by Joseph O’Keefe is one that takes the breath away. We see many artists tread the stage over the year but when you see a very-talented musician play a classic solo and somehow make it his own then that is extra special. Midge is impressed but the crowd is beyond ecstatic. The set finishes with, ‘Hymn’ and the three-piece, because this is not a front man and a support band, trundle off stage.
Midge walks off, turns around, and walks back on. It’s a tradition for him to question the whole point of leaving the stage so he can come back on for an encore even though it’s on the setlist. You can tell the fans who have seen Midge before because the questioning of the need to walk off stage pre-encore is now a firm part of the set. The night closes with, ‘Dancing with Tears in my Eyes’ and, ‘All Fall Down’. You can’t fault any of this. It’s an artist, with forty years’ experience, going through the back catalogue while reinterpreting and rediscovering some gems. Not only that but it feels like the pressure is off Midge as he is within a band of fellow musicians who support him, play off him but also add vigour to the songs and clearly drive Midge on. Casual, relaxed and smiling; it is so good to see Midge Ure happy and have him back in the country.