Midge Ure, best known as the front man for British band Ultravox and Sir Bob Geldof’s co-conspirator in the African-relief benefit single “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” made a rare Nashville visit to the City Winery stage. The show was the conclusion to the second leg of a US tour that started back in October. Mentioning he had been in Nashville before, Ure justly noted that it has “Got bigger, taller.”
Apparently not on enough local radar screens, although Ure’s expectation of “Seeing two people and a dog” was well-exceeded, my quick headcount had only 63 in attendance. This was a true shame since they missed an entertaining evening by a warm and witty performer with whom I felt honored to share the same room.
Although I’m about the right age to have appreciated Ultravox, my bent on British New Wave bands from the 80’s was more akin to pop sans the electronic sounds to which theirs leaned. Nonetheless, I easily fell prey to how Midge (a play on the backwards pronunciation of his real name Jim) delightfully sang his way through his songbook, layering otherwise poppy vocals over lush melodic tones laced with an electronic tinge.
The “elec-trio” was led by Ure on electric guitar and a small keyboard on a tall stand, supported by a two Americans who both currently live here in Nashville: Tony Solis on bass/keyboards (from Puerto Rico) and BC Taylor drums (from West Virginia).
Between songs, Ure was quite friendly and engaging. Like an old friend you hadn’t seen in a while, he peppered every song with just enough background to interest, but not bore you. Mixed in among his best known Ultravox songs were a few of his solo works, including the worldwide “everywhere-but-the-USA smash” single, “If I Was.”
Weak on my Midge Ure history, I was surprised to learn that he was (1) not the original lead singer for Ultravox (John Foxx was) and (2) in the original line-up of the New Romantic band, Visage. The set list included his vocal take on the latter’s hit song, “Fade to Grey” which he co-wrote. Absent though was representation from another of his projects, The Rich Kids, a New Wave band he formed with Glenn Matlock after he was kicked out of the Sex Pistols for supposedly saying he liked The Beatles.
The evening ended with a somber tribute to 2016’s loss of David Bowie with a bottom-heavy, but otherwise faithful version of “Starman.”
These 90 minutes in a small room with such a pleasant entertainer just might serve to be the best unexpected performance I will see this year. Unfortunately, the small crowd might suggest we might not see the likes of Midge Ure in Music City again which would be disappointing.
- Dear God
- New Europeans (Ultravox song)
- If I Was
- Call of the Wild
- Fade to Grey (Visage song)
- Beneath a Spielberg Sky
- Hymn (Ultravox song)
- The Voice (Ultravox song)
- Vienna (Ultravox song)
- All Stood Still (Ultravox song)
- Passing Strangers (Ultravox song)
- Dancing with Tears in My Eyes (Ultravox song)
- Reap the Wild Wind (Ultravox song)
- Starman (David Bowie cover)
Midge Ure—vocals, guitar and keyboards
Tony Solis—bass and keyboards