Midge Ure is best known for his years in the classic lineup of Ultravox from 1979 until the first breakup in 1987, and then the reunion years of 2008 to 2013. Ultravox was best known as a synthpop new wave and almost gothic-sounding band. At City Vineyard, however, Ure performed with only a microphone and an acoustic guitar. This format presented listeners with a unique way of reframing his catalog.

During the COVID lockdown, Ure created the Backstage Lockdown Club  and performed a series of solo acoustic shows for his fans via live streams. Now traveling to live audiences, he launched the “Unzoomed & Face to Face” tour of the United States. Much like the live streamed shows, Ure chose the solo acoustic format.

Hence, Ure performed stark naked interpretations of many songs from his history, including Visage’s “Fade to Grey,” Ultravox’s “I Remember (Death in the Afternoon),” “Vienna,” “Lament,” “The Voice,” and “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes,” and his solo highlights, “Dear God” and “If I Was.” In addition to a reimagining of the songs, Ure also spoke between each song, sharing historical anecdotes about the subsequent composition. Since the stories were linked to the songs he selected to perform, not to his 2004 autobiography, also entitled If I Was, his performance was not quite a memoir. This was selective storytelling, with perhaps not enough about his earliest years in music with Slik, Thin Lizzy, Rich Kids. and Visage in the 1970s and 1980s. The concert date fell close enough to the year-end holidays that he could have intrigued his fans with stories about Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” which he co-wrote with Bob Geldof, but there was no reference to this major moment in his career.  

Part of the success of this acoustic performance was the strength of Ure’s rich, crisp and deeply penetrating vocals. More than his songwriting or his guitar playing, these vocals were distinctive and riveting. Ure’s solo acoustic shows do not  draw anywhere the sizeable audiences that Ultravox attracted, yet Ure has been performing solo acoustic shows to small audiences for years, and he knows well how to play the songs to best effect in this milieu.

Photo by Everynight Charley

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