Midge Ure of Ultravox
Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 8:00 PM CST
Mayne Stage, Chicago, IL
18 years and over
An artist who has received Ivor Novello, Grammy, BASCAP awards along with a flotilla of gold and platinum records, really needs very little introduction. Musical success is seldom measured in time spans of more than a few years, if not Andy Warhol's often quoted "fifteen minutes", so the fact that by the time Midge's single "If I Was" went to No1 in 1985 he had already crammed several musical lifetimes into a 10 year professional career speaks volumes - Slik, The Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Visage, Ultravox and of course the most famous one off group in musical history Band Aid had by then all had the guiding hand of his musical navigation. His musical roots were playing and learning the records of the Small Faces and other rockers who did things very much their own way, Midge appeared to the wider public in a moment of heady teen success with Slik. Their sway-along Bell single 'Forever And Ever' took over at No.1 in the UK from Abba's 'Mamma Mia' on Valentine's Day 1976. Soon outgrowing Slik's pop dimensions, Midge was snapped up by ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock the following year for his new outfit, the Rich Kids, who charted amid an avalanche of press with a self-titled EMI single early in 1978. By April '79, with his name being added to many musicians' contact book, Ure had been asked by Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann to become the new frontman in Ultravox.
The band was a major influence on the electro-pop movements of the early '80s and many an open-minded studio and bedroom experimentalist since. Their successful trademark was combining Midge's powerful guitar riffs with sweeping synthesiser motifs, enigmatic imagery and state-of-the-art visuals. Throughout the first half of the '80s, they brilliantly combined the responsibilities of top 10 artists and innovative style-makers.
As interest in the 1980's rises again to a new peak in 2012, courtesy of reformations of the likes of Duran Duran and most recently Spandau Ballet, Ultravox's chart catalogue rewards merits new scrutiny. Tracks like 'Reap the Wild Wind', 'Dancing With Tears in My Eyes', 'Love's Great Adventure' and 1981's timeless 'Vienna' were all massive hits the world over as they charted with awesome regularity, not only on single, but with seven consecutive top ten albums in just six years.
Even by then, the Midge Ure story had some individual chapters, of course. He wrote , produced and co founded the studio collective Visage in 1980, then hit the top 10 in the summer of 1982 with his first release under his own name, an atmospheric take on the Tom Rush song made famous half a dozen years earlier by the Walker Brothers, 'No Regrets'. Then came November 25, 1984, a historic day for Midge and all of pop music, as 36 artists by the collective name Band Aid gathered at SARM Studios in west London under Ure's production. They recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' a song he had just written with Bob Geldof as the industry's heartfelt and eloquent contribution to Ethiopian famine relief. 600,000 copies sold in its first week in the UK alone was only the beginning: 800,000 more were bought in the second week, more than three million world-wide, and the unstoppable emotion engendered by the project led to Live Aid, the summer 1985 global concert that, all exaggeration aside, spoke for a generation.