Every song by Midge Ure feels like a daring, romantic undertaking of epic proportions, and particularly so when performed live. His recent visit to the DC area was no exception, as Midge enthralled with a set of songs drawn from his solo career and his time as frontman for UK quartet Ultravox.
Midge usually depends on American audience familiarity with Ultravox to build enthusiasm for his show, and this time around he was smartly daring in some of his choices. At Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, Midge began the show with Ultravox favorite “Passing Strangers.” While that welcome selection from Vienna, Midge’s first album with Ultravox, was no surprise, Midge reached into the catalog for engaging numbers like “I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)” and “New Europeans,” lifted from Rage in Eden, Midge’s second Ultravox album, and Vienna respectively.
The Vienna album usually plays large in Midge’s US shows, and the concert at Bethesda Blues was no exception. Midge belted a stirring rendition of the title track “Vienna,” and just to see and hear him lose himself in the epic number was alone worth the price of admission. As a live performer, Midge exuded passion equal to that of the inspirational lyrics of his incredible songs. He gave every bit of himself to a rousing performance. Midge’s passion came alive in the show, and his intense production was equally as fulfilling as his dramatic prose.
Early, the equally epic “Hymn,” by way of Ultravox’s Quartet, was a dependable selection as a personal favorite of Midge’s, and the less predictable “All Stood Still” was an exciting new wave number also appearing on Vienna.
In his solo material, Midge expressed his pride in his last solo album Fragile before singing the record’s title track, and he played “Dear God” from his 1988 album, Answers to Nothing. Perhaps “If I Was,” the unforgettably melodic song from The Gift, his 1985 first solo album, was the most anticipated and most moving song of the evening.
Well, actually, Midge also performed “Fade to Grey,” the #1 UK hit he wrote and produced as a member of New Romantics Visage. And for that number and others, dancing broke out in the aisles surrounding the cabaret tables at our well-attended show. It was the best evidence that the Scotsman is very welcome indeed in the United States, having missed out on live performances here from roughly 1985-2013!
On Midge’s current US tour, he shares the bill with crooner Paul Young under the banner of “The Soundtrack of Your Life Tour,” and the two UK musicians also shared the stage for a rollicking performance of “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy, a band where Midge was briefly a member, at the end of the night. It was a brilliant pairing of two strong performers as well as a clever homage to a small part of Midge’s impressive career.
Midge’s next two shows are in Canada and then he returns to wrap his current run through the United States with a last date in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 21. We can only hope for Midge, a true musician’s musician, to return again to the United States soon with his next solo album (maybe as early as next fall?).
Here are a few pictures of Midge Ure performing at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club on June 5, 2018.