Friday, April 17
Scottish musician Midge Ure co-wrote the Band-Aid charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas? and also did stints in the bands Thin Lizzy and Visage. He’s had a solo career but is best-loved for his work as the frontman of Ultravox.
He last visited New Zealand in the early 1980s and the tone for this solo acoustic concert was set when he arrived on stage joking, “it’s been 33 years, you never call, you don’t write…”
Ure proceeded to work through so many of the classic Ultravox singles – and this generous survey of his career was delivered with a fine line in self-effacement. He mocked the notion of reunions and all but apologised for playing the title track from the band’s 2012 album, Brilliant.
But there were tender moments too. Visage’s classic Fade To Grey had an extra poignancy given the recent passing of that band’s lead singer, Steve Strange. Served in dedication to Strange it was the first major audience singalong.
And where tunes like Fade to Grey and Ultravox’s Vienna might have seemed unlikely to work in their solo makeovers the power of the choruses was still obvious, no reliance on the synth lines to make them shine.
Ure also covered Tom Rush and Peter Green, the latter a magical version of Man of the World, the story around it, a discussion of learning songs by listening to them on the radio, almost as special as the song itself.
And this was the thing – for every magic moment, such as Midge’s solo hit, If I Was, the show was also about the stories, the banter, the subtle power of a sincere frontman and a strong body of work, sure, but also the humility, the energy, the all-inclusive nature of the performance. As the setlist rolled out the singalongs increased. Ure himself was in fine voice and the sound, just his voice and acoustic guitar in a pin-drop perfect mix, was exquisite.