Music Park: Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2016 by Mickey

CHVRCHES 008 Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches sings at Echostage on Oct. 17, 2016. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

I’ll confess that I’m a man whose taste in music is readily apparent. If you have new wave tunes to play, particularly from 1976-86, I’m going to show up and listen to them. That said, a number of incredible legacy new wave bands happened to travel through the DC metro area over the past year, and I took the opportunity to review them for our humble blog.

That said, a number of younger bands definitely broke through and seized my attention, most notably Canada’s Operators, who were the most exciting new band I’ve seen in some time. As with Operators, many of the best performances I witnessed in 2016 came from bands whose leaders are among the Masters of Synthpop, and so I have dedicated a postscript of really great synthpop shows that may have “missed” the top 10 but otherwise deserve a lot of applause.

Check out my top 10 list of concerts I saw for Parklife DC. (Click on the concert slugline to revisit the full review.)

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Music Park: 10 Top Live Bowie Covers of 2016

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Duran Duran perform a medley of “Planet Earth”/”Space Oddity” at the Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park in Miami on April 1, 2016. (Photo courtesy YouTube)

In the past year, I’ve reminisced much on the passing of David Bowie, whose unexpected death in January marked a year of remembrances of the great musician and his legacy.

And many of these remembrances involved a good deal of dancing and absorbing live performances from wonderful artists that took the time to remember Bowie as well. Here then are 10 top Bowie covers that I saw in my time reviewing shows for Parklife DC in 2016.

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Music Park: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club — 10/4/16

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Midge Ure performs at Bethesda Blues and Jazz on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016.

The magnificent Midge Ure brought passion and pathos to Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, performing locally with a backing band for the first time in quite some time!

Early last year, Midge warmed our hearts in Bethesda on his Fragile Troubadour Tour, where he came only with an acoustic guitar in hand and songs in his heart. This time around, he was “Live and Electric” with the able assistance of drummer BC Taylor and guitarist Tony Solis, who also played keyboards.

Midge shined in a 75-minute set that covered highlights from his years as lead singer of Ultravox, as well as some of his solo hits and the ever-remarkable “Fade to Grey,” the famed UK #1 hit he wrote for his former band Visage. Midge’s voice soared with rich liveliness as he roared or whispered the words to the amazing, powerful songs that have become his signature.

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Interview: Midge Ure (@Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 10/4/16)

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Midge Ure (Photo courtesy Erika Tooker)

Midge Ure may have famously sang, “This means nothing to me” in the Ultravox song “Vienna,” but don’t be fooled. The influential musician and humanitarian invests quite a lot of himself in his music and his causes, touring the world and arranging endeavors like Live Aid, Band Aid, and Live 8 concert festivals. After being away from the United States for a very long time, Midge has been returning regularly in recent years, performing material from his solo albums, from Ultravox, and from other projects.

Midge’s next US tour starts on Sept. 30 in Amityville, NY, and ends Oct. 15 in Atlanta. (Find tickets for Midge’s shows via Songkick.)

On this tour, Midge performs in the DC area on Oct. 4 at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club — the same venue he visited when he was last here in early 2015. Joining Midge in a three-piece band are drummer BC Taylor and keyboard player Tony Solis, both of whom will also play other instruments for this “Live and Electric” tour.

Parklife DC was honored to catch up with Midge to ask him about the tour and his other current projects as well as the future of Ultravox and meaning in a world without David Bowie.

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Don’t Miss: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, 10/4/16

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Midge Ure (Photo courtesy Erika Tooker)

In September, Midge Ure returns to the United States after about a year and a half away. The last time this great Scot toured our country, he did so completely solo, equipped with only an acoustic guitar. The resulting Fragile Troubadour Tour was empowering and engrossing.

Well, Midge’s tour this time promises to be electrifying, as he is embarking on a US tour with a full band for the first time since his turn in the Retro Futura Tour in 2014. Joining Midge are drummer BC Taylor and keyboard player Tony Solis, both of whom will also play other instruments for this “Live and Electric” tour.

On this tour, Midge will perform solo material, including songs from his 2014 album Fragile, as well as music from his synthpop bands Ultravox and Visage. Midge played some Ultravox and Visage songs last time as well, but this time he’ll play electric guitar and synthesizer to deliver that New Romantic music in its full glory.

Midge also has been recording new music, such as “Touching Hearts and Skies,” which he contributed to the soundtrack of the movie Eddie the Eagle. Listen to “Touching Hearts and Skies” by Midge Ure on YouTube:

Locally, Midge will visit the DC metro area to perform at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on Tuesday, Oct. 4! He was phenomenal when he was there in 2015. (Read our full review here!) I had the pleasure of chatting with Midge in the past, and I know of no other musician with as much integrity, character, charm, and genuine consideration for others. On top of that, Midge simply makes fantastic music! (Read our Parklife DC interview with Midge Ure from 2015.) Don’t miss your chance to see him when he’s in town.

As an added incentive to go, Richard Lloyd, guitarist extraordinaire and founding member of the seminal band Television, is opening for Midge. Tickets are available online.

Midge Ure
w/ Richard Lloyd
Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club
Tuesday, Oct. 4
Show @8pm
$25
All ages

Music Park: Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2015 by Mickey

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Steve Norman of Spandau Ballet was a star player at the 9:30 Club on April 28, 2015. (Photo by Joy Asico)

When I look back upon 2015, I certainly discovered my share of new favorite bands. But I have to confess, the best shows of the year were dominated by legacy bands returning to reclaim their pop thrones. And so the shows I am most excited about in 2015 were generally those shows where a genre-defining artist came back to DC and absolutely mastered their art.

But I’ll add this postscript: 2015 also was the year of the punk rock girl, as several notable bands reminded me of how much I like a woman’s voice over a bit of surf or rockabilly guitar. I’ll explain more after my official list of Parklife DC Top 10 Concerts of 2015.

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Music Park: Midge Ure @ Bethesda Blues & Jazz — 3/8/15

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Midge Ure performs a solo acoustic show at Iridium in New York City on Feb. 27, 2015.

When Midge Ure reunited with the other three members of Ultravox in 2008, the band embarked on discussions to tour. To determine the reunion tour setlist, the four band members each voted their preference from a list of potential songs, and those songs that received four votes would definitely be part of the set.

As it turns out only four of those potential songs received four votes. One of those songs, the archly lush and mournful “Lament” also landed on Midge Ure’s solo setlist Sunday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Md., in the last stop of a tour in support of his 2014 album Fragile.

Although Ultravox attempted to go about its business in as democratic a fashion as possible, Midge faced no such considerations on this tour. He remarkably undertook the U.S. portion of the Fragile tour completely on his own — without any roadies, management or other tour support. He traveled without any support whatsoever, bringing only a single guitar onto stage to powerfully perform more than 20 songs to audiences like that of the supper club, which nearly managed to sell out all of its dining tables to the eloquent Scot.

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