Midge Ure And Band Electronica performing The 1980 Tour at The Town Hall Birmingham on Monday 7th October 2019


Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The year 1980 heralded the birth of synthesizer sophisticated music and as the front man of the massive synth pop group Ultravox, Midge Ure was at the very heart of it all. As co-founder of New Romantic trail blazers Visage, he jumped at the chance to replace John Foxx when Ultravox came calling and with his first album with the band, Vienna, topping the charts, the rest as they say is history.

Now to celebrate that golden age, Ure and his Band Electronica were at the Town Hall in Birmingham last night to play Vienna in full and a selection of Visage songs, most of which have never been performed live before.

To get the crowd nicely warmed up, Ure’s old friend from his Rich Kid days, Rusty Egan was on hand and with a DJ set reminiscent of his days at London’s Blitz night club, he got the crowd up on their feet dancing in no time. Whilst almost single handedly putting together the sound track for the New Romantic movement, Egan had plenty of tunes in his locker to entertain.

Coming on stage to Yellow Pearl, a song Ure wrote with Phil Lynott and which was used as the theme tune for Top Of The Pops for five years in the 80s, it was the Visage songs that got the party started.

With Rusty Egan on drums, the Band Electronica succeeded in putting life in songs which were at the time quite frankly underwhelming. Songs such Blocks On Blocks, Mind Of A Toy and Glorious were followed by In The Year 2525 and Fade To Grey which had the crowd singing along.

The rest of the main set was dedicated to playing the Vienna album in full. With Ure alternating between guitar and synthesiser, he was backed by the very talented band. Astradyne was a long instrumental featuring sweeping and majestic synthesiser arrangements and served as a reminder that Ultravox were closer to progressive rock than punk rock.

Blasting out the complicated New Europeans, Private Lives and the urgent Sleepwalk, Mr X was a simpler, much sparser Kraftwerk pastiche. With Ure’s voice sometimes falling foul to poor sound work, the opening notes to Vienna were marred by some feedback but as soon as this was addressed, the wonderfully melodramatic song filled the Town Hall with its mournful violin solo which had everyone on their feet in appreciation.

For the encore there were some newer Ultravox hits such as Dancing With Tears In My Eyes and Hymn, which just served to show that the recent resurgence that Ure is experiencing, is actually very well deserved.