7th December 2019
Midge Ure - “The 1980s Tour” - Support: Tiny Magnetic Pets
If MIDGE URE isn’t a musical legend, who is then? From his work with VISAGE to his short engagement in THIN LIZZY to fronting the influential ULTRAVOX, plus lots of production credits, co-writing the global charity hit ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and co-organizing the legendary “Live Aid” event in 1985, the Scottish musician has quite a legacy! This winter he has embarked on a tour which is entirely dedicated to one single, yet rather quintessential year: the year 1980!
Tiny Magnetic Pets
Irish band TINY MAGNETIC PETS were invited to support MIDGE URE’s current tour for some dates and came directly from a number of support gigs for ORCHESTRAL MANOEVRES IN THE DARK when they hit the road with Mr Ure. TINY MAGNETIC PETS are vocalist Paula Gilmer, keyboardist and programmer Sean Quinn, and Eugene Somers on electronic drums and synths. The Dublin-based band has already gained some attention in their home country and in the UK with their melodic, melancholic Synth Pop which echoes late 70s / early 80s electronic music from KRAFTWERK to HUMAN LEAGUE and is in fact produced without computers, just Moogs, a Mellotron, and some guitar on occasion. https://www.tinymagneticpets.com / https://www.facebook.com/tinymagneticpets
Music & Performance
In the all-seated Rosenhof in Osnabrück TINY MAGNETIC PETS entered the stage at an early time but almost all seats were already occupied. Apparently Osnabrück audiences love to be on time, or maybe it was just the average age of (clearly) 50+ means an inclination for timeliness. However, not knowing TINY MAGNETIC PETS before I was curious what was to come. I was surprised that volume was on a pretty low level and at first I thought that it was a mistake. Nope, for the whole gig the volume stayed so low and wasn’t too much louder than my TV set at home and at the Rosenhof you could hear people talking ten meters away from you despite that there was a band playing on the stage. A pity, as it took a bit of impact and effect from the presented music.
Paula Gilmer’s singing was flawless, though, she has a great Pop voice which is a nice contrast to the vintage instrumentation of the Krautrock-influenced music. It’s somehow electronic Pop made for radio airplay, for my personal taste a tad bit too harmless and light-weighted but for the final two songs, ‘Here Comes The Noise’ and ‘Semaphore’, the music got a bit edgier and dancier eventually and the crowd was happily clapping along to the beats. A solid performance which probably would have been a bit more impressive if someone actually had found the volume button. I can only advise you to check out TINY MAGNETIC PETS on Spotify (or wherever you prefer to listen to music these days) as it was only after the show that I really got into their music. And after all, Paula Gilmer’s voice is one not to be missed!
01. All Yesterday’s Tomorrows
02. Not Giving In
04. Falling Apart in Slow Motion
05. Here Comes the Noise
Total: 7.5 / 10
With his work in and for so many bands it easy to forget that MIDGE URE also had a successful solo career. He landed a global hit with ‘If I Was’ in 1985, released ten studio albums which cover quite a diverse range from electronic music to acoustic Folk music, and on top of everything else he has no less than five [!] honorary doctor titles, most of the for music and for his contribution to Scottish culture, but also a doctorate in Law awarded by the University of Bath. Not too bad! While MIDGE URE has been quite prolific and hard-working through his four decade career, his best known and most influential work is certainly from the late 1970s to the mid-80s.
With such a legacy it was probably a wise move to focus the current tour on one single year, hence the name “The 1980 Tour.” This year was a turn of the tide, when Post-Punk morphed into New Wave and when the synthesizer became mainstream and dominant in Pop music. And of course it was the year when ULTRAVOX released their critically acclaimed and highly successful album ‘Vienna’, which we would get to hear in its entirety on this December night. But at first we got something else when MIDGE URE, backed up by his BAND ELECTRONICA, entered the stage… http://www.midgeure.co.uk / https://www.facebook.com/midge.ure
Music & Performance
The first part of the show was a best of VISAGE, in particular their homonymous album from 1980, and some other essential songs from this year. Starting with the instrumental ‘Yellow Pearl’, the sound was a bit louder than during TINY MAGNETIC PETS’ gig but still lower than usual at club shows. But for a club show the stage design and lighting was pretty elaborate with BAND ELECTRONICA performing on a podium behind the star of the show, Mr MIDGE URE. His backing group is Rusself Field on drums, Cole Stacey on synths and bass guitar, and Joseph O’ Keefe playing the piano, keyboards and occasionally the violin. After classic VISAGE songs such as ‘The Dancer’ or ‘Mind Of A Toy’ and the ZAGER & EVAN cover ‘In The Year 2525’, MIDGE URE broke the concept of his tour, as he smirkingly admitted, and performed ‘Glorious’, a song which he produced with his long-time collaborator Rusty Egan and which was actually released in 2017.
But there was no time to pedantry as a spine-tingling performance of ‘Fade To Grey’, one of the songs the audience certainly waited for, followed to finish the VISAGE part of the show. I hoped to hear ‘The Anvil’, even though it is from VISAGE’s 1982 album, but when MIDGE URE can do one exception with ‘Glorious’ he probably could have done another one, right? Then it was time for ‘Vienna’, the essential album by ULTRAVOX. This tour is the first time in 40 years that the album gets performed live in its entirety and MIDGE URE and his BAND ELECTRONICA performed the songs in the same running order as on the original release. The sound was crystal clear and after MIDGE URE’s voice was a bit too loud in the mix the technicians had sorted this out by now. And even if you didn’t listen to the ‘Vienna’ album in quite a while it was easy to recognise the songs as they are packed with unforgettable hooks and melodies!
After all, ‘Passing Strangers’ and ‘Sleepwalk’ were successful chart hits back in 1980, and ‘New Europeans’ has always been a fan favourite for good reasons. For the second part of the show they revealed another nice gimmick for the show as the front of the band’s podium was in fact a LED screen which now displays nice light effects and videos, from stormy skies to blue ice crystals to some sort of candle light. MIDGE URE switched between keyboard and guitar and was often joined at the front of the stage by Cole Stacey with his bass guitar. A favourite moment of mine was the performance of ‘Mr. X’, whose KRAFTWERK-like atmosphere was underlined by great visuals, but most people of course waited for the big hit, the album title track and 80s classic ‘Vienna’.
A catchy ‘All Stood Still’ finished the main set but instead of leaving the stage the band simply continued. As Midge Ure said “Usually we would head for the dressing room now, and you would clap and cheer so that we come back for encore, but since our dressing is far away in Düsseldorf we just go on, if that’s okay for you” - and of course the audience was okay with that. ‘Passionate Reply’, a non-album track which is according to Mr. Ure often requested on the social networks, followed before the quartet ended the night with the three classic post-1980 hits ‘Dancing With Tears in My Eyes’, ‘The Voice’, and the epic ‘Hymn’. “The 1980 Tour” will continue in 2020 and is certainly worth checking out, so go to MIDGE URE’s internet site to see if he is playing a gig near you.
- Part 1: Visage and Songs of the 80ies -
01. Yellow Pearl
03. Blocks on Blocks
04. The Dancer
05. In the Year 2525
06. Mind of a Toy
08. Fade to Grey
- Part 2: The ‘Vienna’ album -
09. New Europeans
10. Private Lives
11. Passing Strangers
13. Mr. X
14. Western Promise
16. All Stood Still
17. Passionate Reply
18. Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
19. The Voice
Total: 8.5 / 10
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)