Midge Ure at the Iridium

Midge Ure at the Iridium
Mike Perciaccante By

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Midge Ure
New York, NY
August 19, 2014

Midge Ure is a Scottish guitarist, singer, keyboard player, and songwriter. He has achieved worldwide success as a member of Slik, The Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Visage, Ultravox and as a solo artist. During his career, he has won many awards including a Grammy® while recording a number of gold and platinum albums and singles. Ure is also famous for having along with Bob Geldorf, written "Do The Know Its Christmas?" and for co-organizing Live Aid and Live 8.

Touring behind Fragile (Hypertension, 2014), his self-described first album of new material in 12 years, Ure delivered a career-spanning night of acoustic favorites (along with choice new songs) at a packed Iridium nightclub. Appearing on stage, Ure was clearly in a playful mood. He casually began talking to the crowd as though they were old friends, "How ya doing? Good to see ya! Keep the applause going 'cause I forgot my guitar." He then hit his forehead with the palm of his hand bounded off stage, grabbed his axe, smiled and announced, "It's good to be back."

The audience in the small club, nestled below New York City's famed thoroughfare, Broadway, reacted as if Ure had told each member that they had won a million dollars. The applause was deafening. Once the cheers had died down, Ure opened with "Waiting Days" from Pure (RCA, 1992). He then announced that the next songs "Breathe" was one "that I usually do later in the show, but I've been noticing that my vocals keep getting higher so rather than ruin it I'm going to do it here."

His good cheer and self-deprecating humor was never more evident than on his next interaction with the crowd. In his Scottish brogue he said, " I was in a shop today and the girl told me she loved my accent. She said, ' Don't buy anything; just talk." She got kind of orgasmic. I found it strange because I sound like Billy Connolly, the comedian and actor or better yet Shrek." He paused and in his best Mike Myers impersonation said, "Hey Donkey!" He continued, "Anyway, this is a song I wrote a lifetime ago, but never got around to recording myself. He then played a tour de force interpretation of Visage's "Fade To Grey." Next up was the plaintive and pleading "Dear God" from his second solo album Answers To Nothing (Chrysalis, 1988). The lyrics say it all:

"Dear God, is there somebody out there?
Is there someone to hear my prayer?
I'm a simple man with simple words to say
Is there some point in asking?
Asking for more only got us where we are today
Lost and alone and afraid
Give me, love for the lonely
Give me, food for the hungry
Give me, peace in a restless world
Give me, hope for the children
Give me, a worldwide religion
Give me, peace in a restless world"

Continuing with his conversational tone, Ure introduced "Become" from Fragile with the statement, "I've got a new album. It was time. Twelve years, so I'm not in a hurry... this is from it. On the album the song is very electronic. This version isn't." After soaking up the applause following the new tune, Ure grabbed his iPad Mini and his glasses. After mounting the device on its stand and donning his glasses, he paused and folded his arms across his chest and over the guitar, he wistfully said, "I recently made a grave error. I said I'd play the entire album." The crowd cheered it approval, but Ure waved it off with a smile saying, "Don't clap yet. I haven't done it yet. I spent more time working on learning the fucking album an now I can't remember all the lyrics. So I got my iPad and put the lyrics on it." He smirked before continuing, "Now I can't read it. So I'm going to have to use my spaceman glasses." He then played "answers to Nothing," "Take Me Home" and Sister And Brother" (which was originally done as a duet with Kate Bush./ Ever cognizant of that fact Ure introduced the song by stating, "I've got loads of people on the internet asking how I'm going to do this and right now I don't know. It's going to be interesting"). "Just For You" and "Lied" followed.

Ure then decided to give the audience a little insight into both his psyche and his creative process. He explained that "songs just come to me. I write in the moment. I wrote this when a friend passed away." He paused for an almost indiscernible moment, and with a somewhat saddened look on his face stated, "It was inevitable. I wrote this for him in the style of his band." He then sang an impassioned version of "The Leaving (So Long)."

Announcing that he planned to "play some things I like now...some things I know, the guitarist sang "Lament" from the Ultravox album of the same name (Chrysalis, 1984), Fleetwood Mac's "Man Of The World" (about which he said was written by Peter Green "who is such a good guitarist, I'd hate him, if I didn't love him."), "Fragile," from the album of the same name. On this evening each song came with a story. Regarding "Fragile" (which was released earlier that day), Ure was not sure if it had been released in the U.S. or was going to be released during the following week. When certain members of the audience commented that they had purchased the CD in Europe. Ure good-naturedly stated, "Oh...purchased in Europe. Hmmmph" He then talked about the CD "which may or may not have been released here today...which you may or may not have bought in Europe. I thank you for buying it. It keeps my children spending my money. They're at Kinky Boots (a Broadway play) tonight. Where did I go wrong?"

The evening continued with an emotional version of the title track from Ultravox' Vienna album (Chrysalis, 1980). Opening it up for discussion, Ure asked, "What else can I play?' The audience peppered him with requests for "If I Was," "The Voice," "Cold, Cold Heart" and many others. He responded by asking for the audience to help him on "The Voice. The audience did so and passed its audition with flying colors providing the "ooh, ooh, ooh" verse/chorus response. The crowd obviously thought that the request portion of the show had been extended and that the original question was a tad more than rhetorical. When someone asked again for "If I Was," Ure laughed and said, "No." He said he'd "play a few more and then stand in my little room and pretend that I'm not coming back." He then told the audience members that encores were far from spontaneous—"they're in the contract."

Singing with the gusto of a performer who had an entire band behind him, he then offered up powerhouse versions of "Hymn" from The Ultravox album Quartet (Chrysalis, 1982) and "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes" from Lament.

At the end of "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes" he set his Guitar down on it s stand took a deep bow and received a standing ovation. He then retreated to his little room while the audience remained on its feet, cheering and whistling for more. Ure had stayed in his little room for no more than two minutes before he re-emerged and appeased the audience member who had been requesting "If I Was" (from his first solo album, 1985's Chrysalis release, The Gift). The anthemic love song had the audience on its feet again, this time singing at the top of its collective lungs.

The musician then took his final bows retreated to his dressing room to towel off and take a brief rest before coming out and meeting with his fans who had formed a line that snaked from the stage door, down the aisles between the tables and around the club. When last seen Ure was still shaking hands, posing for pictures and signing CDs, his autobiography and posters

Photo Credit: Christine Connallon (view more concert photos)
[Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon].

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