For his 70th birthday celebrations, Midge Ure performed two special sets at the Royal Albert Hall as part of his ‘70RAH 041023’ event, for which he began on an acoustic set with a backing band of classical musicians to perform Ultravox cover, ‘Lament’, with its weave of string strokes; the violin and vocal synchronisation of ‘Breathe’ and acoustic guitar drive of ‘Guns and Arrows’.

After an interval, he began his electric set on entrance music, ‘Yellow Pearl’, by Phil Lynott, and then, with his friend Rusty Egan in the audience, performed Egan’s ‘Glorious’ with its stripped down drum intro and Tangerine Dream synth sounds. Ure then embarked on his almost totally Ultravox derived set list starting with the soothing ballad of ‘Reap the Wild Wind’, which he got the audience clapping along to.

After a cover of Tom Rush’s ‘No Regrets’ featuring his Neu-style guitar solo, Ure performed a marathon of Ultravox tracks in track order from the band’s studio album, ‘Vienna’, starting on ‘Astradyne’, with cosmical yet cold synth and groaning violinic overlay mirroring Ultravox’s traditional synth sound, which then arrived fully in ‘Private Lives’, with a strangling synthesiser and guitar duet. Before then and continuing the tracklist, Ure performed the funky ‘New Europeans’, with its staccato guitar strokes, glockenspiel keys and racing rhythmic instrumental, and ‘Sleepwalk’, with a whirring synthesiser duet.

‘Mr X’ arrived, unfortunately to a darknened stage, conjuring up Kraftwerk; its stammering beats with a space race synth, Ure’s robotised vocals and mechanical noises, later featuring a violin solo. The set climaxed on the penultimate track on side B of the album and its single of the same name, ‘Vienna’; its whistling lightning and thunder crashes, before the tempo increased with tumultuous violin and the final cascade of classical piano, proving how much of a genial composition it was.

Ure finished his set on Visage cover ‘Fade to Grey’ and ‘Dancing with Tears in My Eyes’, the latter opened with his woody guitar solo, and performed an encore of ‘The Voice’, with the whole of the Albert Hall singing along to the chorus, before he finally finished his set on the splendour of ‘Hymn’.

04/10/23: Midge Ure @ Royal Albert Hall, London.

Photos © Fernanda Bavaresco.

© Ayisha Khan.