Midge Ure at the Iridium

(David Chiu)
(David Chiu)

Midge Ure
The Iridium
New York City
Feb. 27, 2015
Review by David Chiu

Anyone who has followed Midge Ure’s career knows that he is one of founding fathers of the British synthpop movement of the early to mid ’80s, most notably as the singer of Ultravox. So the idea of him performing acoustic versions of those Ultravox songs with just a guitar in 2015 might seem unusual, since his body of work has been mostly driven by electronics and intricate arrangements that characterized the sleek production of the era.

But any initial skepticism fell by the wayside when he played a solo set during a two-night stand at the famed Iridium in New York’s Times Square. Opening with “Dear God” from Ure’s solo period, the show was an almost two-hour ‘unplugged’ overview of the artist’s 35-year career from the New Romantic years to his most recent solo album Fragile. The way that the songs were reworked sort of lent a pleasant sense of surprise and rediscovery, allowing the lyrics to breathe on their own without the electronic trappings that we’re accustomed to hearing. This was especially during Ure’s passionate renditions of tracks like “I Survived” and “Let Me Go,” along with a couple of  ballads such as “Man of the World” and “No Regrets” – all revealing poignancy and vulnerability.

Another thing that hadn’t changed is Ure’s vocals, which didn’t sound weathered after all these years and at times provided emotional high points during certain parts of the show. One of the touching moments  is Ure’s tribute to his former Visage band mate Steve Strange, who unexpectedly passed away recently, with his version of “Fade to Grey.”

In the relaxed, cozy vibe of the Iridium, Ure displayed moments of humor to the audience between songs, whether it was jokingly chiding a noisy patron, the dilemma of the artist who performs the hits and then breaks out the dreaded new song; or talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago, which led to the performance of “Tumbling Down”

Towards the end of the set, Ure naturally saved the really best for last, with a couple of Ultravox and solo standards, including “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes,” “Reap the Wild Wind,” “Vienna,” (which drew a rousing applause) as well as his inspiring solo hit “If I Was”–  before finally concluding the show with another classic Ultravox song, “The Voice.” Overall, the gig just proved that however you dress up or present the songs, it all boils down to whether they resonate with people on aesthetic and emotional level. And in the case of Ure’s performance at the Iridium, they do.

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Set list:

1. Dear God
2. Call of the Wild
3. Brilliant
4. Breathe
5. I Survived
6. Fade to Grey
7. Hymn
8. Tumbling Down
9. No Regret
10. Man of the World
11. Let Me Go
12. Light in Your Eyes
13. Guns and Arrows
14. Cold Cold Heart
15. Lament
16. Reap the Wild Wind
17. Vienna
18. Become
19. If I Was
20. Dancing With Tears in My Eyes

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21. The Voice

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2 thoughts on “Midge Ure at the Iridium

  1. So true, about Midge Ure’s voice. Listening to him brought me back 20 something years when I first discovered him. He sounds the same & still sings with such emotional. He can still make my heart soar or bring tears to my eyes. A true artist with a wicked sense of humor it seems.

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