The synth-pop visionary behind Live Aid electrifies the Barras’ with a performance of Ultravox’s Vienna in full.
It is hard to understate the influence of Midge Ure on British pop music and even British pop culture in general. While he achieved monumental success as part of Ultravox and Visage as well as in his solo spells, he was also one of the key minds behind Band Aid and Live Aid.
Therefore, when Ure announced his “1980 Tour”, it was easy to understand the interest even after that 80s heyday had long gone. The tour would feature a full rendition of Ultravox’s legendary Vienna album from start to finish, as well as classic material from Visage. On the night, the Barras were packed out as those who clung on to the hits of their youth and others who had discovered them more recently (like myself) converged to create a raucous atmosphere.
The crowd initially took some time to warm up, but when Ure declared “now, this is one you probably came here for…” and Visage’s Fade to Grey played, the electricity in the room could truly be felt. This was quickly followed by the beginnings of the Vienna album, with Ure’s impassioned performance of the underappreciated classics New Europeans and Sleepwalk. This underlined that even though years may have passed, the voice of Midge Ure is still going strong.
It was only a couple more songs before the inevitable came…the title track that defined Ultravox, Vienna. The crowd had been waiting for it all night and their excitement could hardly be contained, clear from the frenzied cheers which filled the air as the first few notes played. The seminal synth-pop hit was written by Ure about an enraptured love affair in the track’s titular city, and inspired by 1949 film noir The Third Man. Ure invited the crowd to sing along with him, taking in the joyous occasion that was felt by both parties during this track. The whole thing could have ended there and no one would have been disappointed, but we still had All Stood Still to go, and we were even given an additional cherry on the synthpop cake with extra songs. One was Dancing with Tears in My Eyes, a personal favourite of mine; with a chorus done so masterfully by Ure it would be enough to give anyone a lump in their throat.
What struck me most was Ure’s candidness when talking to the crowd in-between songs. He was extremely self-aware of the passing time, and the near 40 years since Vienna’s release – but he was also happy about the fact people still cared, and that he could still perform to a stalwart audience like this one. The man is now eligible for a pension, but if you were still able to do this at his age wouldn’t you?
At the end of the night, the smiles on faces were as clear as day – everyone had just seen a true visionary of British music give it his all. It felt like we had been transported right back to 1980, just as the gig had intended. For that I can only say one thing: thank you, Midge.