On the 2nd to last night of his US tour, Midge Ure stopped by "My Father's Place" - no not my dad's bar - but one of the most iconic venues that dates back to the 70's and 80's.
With no back-up band, Midge took the stage in confidence, ready to entertain the crowd for the next hour or so. And he did just that.
He opened with "Dear God" while strumming effortlessly on his guitar and belting out the words to an audience that sat so silent, you could hear a pin drop. His voice is still as strong and powerful to this day as I remember it from back in the 80's.
There was no set list for the night. "It's going to be run by you (the audience)", Midge said. "Raise your hand (or your cell phone light) and I'll call on you to ask questions and make requests". And that's how the night went on.
We got to ask anything we wanted, and Midge answered every single question. Spanning a successful 40+ year music career, there was more than enough to talk about and we learned things about Midge's life and his music. It was a special night.
Of his song-writing style, Midge said, "...you have to write bad songs and learn from it, in order to write good ones" and he often spoke about how "radio was your music teacher". "You learned how to write songs by listening to other artists".
When asked "What's one of the songs you wished you wrote", he responded with a tune by the "original" Fleetwood Mac (not the tambourine-playing band), which got a chuckle from the crowd. Then he performed "Man of the World" for us.
The question came up asking "what's the possibility of the other members of Ultravox coming to the US for a tour?" You can tell it was a bit of a sore subject as he expressed his feelings that "all things have a finite life". His involvement with Band Aid and Live Aid took him away from his former bandmates for 2 years and by then, you start to move on. They did reunite for a brief tour and even released another album in 2012.
"We all have that one or two songs that make an impact on our life and helps get us through rough times". For one person in the audience it was "One Small Day". He thanked her for her kind words and spoke about how "music enhances your mood" and "we all have soundtracks" to our life" made up by "bits of music". This is why he always writes about "stuff that matters".
Midge is a pretty funny guy when you have some one-on-one conversations with him, or one-on-two hundred, as was the case last night. He could definitely do some stand-up if he wanted to.
In between questions, he performed songs like, "If I Was", "The Voice", "Waiting Days", "Reap the Wild Wind" and Visage's "Fade to Grey".
Midge continued to tell amusing stores like the time he ruined David Bowie's Christmas one year. Bob Geldof had asked if Bowie would present the Band Aid video for "Do They Know It's Christmas" on TV. The BBC had given them 5 minutes before "Top of the Pops" to air the single. Bowie agreed, even though it meant having to shave his goatee, which he grew so he could go Christmas shopping without being recognized.
Being one of the influencers in his life, Midge gave us a touching rendition of Bowie's song "The Man Who Sold The World", which he covered and was featured on the Party, Party soundtrack (the British version of Porky's) and it also became the opening sequence in the video game, Metal Gear Solid.
Other requests included "Guns and Arrows", "Here, There and Everywhere" by the Beatles (which he only did the first line or two) and "Lament".
In 2001, Midge released "Little Orphans". A CD compilation of songs that didn't make it on other albums, but ended up becoming hits after all. When asked why they didn't make the cut, he said "an album should take you on a journey". He doesn't buy albums for one song only. "You have to listen to it in its entirety from the first song to the last".
As the end of the night neared, he performed "Breathe" for a couple celebrating their 25th anniversary, then finished with "Vienna", "Hymn" and "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes", all with the power and emotion that was intended when they were written.
Midge recently released "Soundtrack 1978-2019", a 2CD+DVD anthology that combines solo songs and Ultravox recordings. It contains 32 tracks including 7-inch versions, alternative edits and unreleased remixes.
I've made it a point to always see Midge Ure when he comes to the New York area and he never disappoints. You can tell he truly loves playing for his fans and it shows in each and every show. If time allows, he even sticks around after the show to take pictures and chat with everyone, never rushing. He is the epitome of how artists should be and why he has such a loyal following.
Christine Sweeney, a native Long Islander, opened for Midge Ure. She's got an indie blues pop sound and has opened for national acts like China Crisis, Graham Parker, Jill Sobule and Nine Days. Before starting her last song, Larry the Duck came back on stage and said that Midge has personally requested "Running Up That Hill", which she performed amazingly.
Photos by Cindy Goldman