Scottish rock musician Midge Ure believed his first solo acoustic tour of the United States six years ago would also be his last.
“At the time, it was to score a point,” says Ure, the former leader of Ultravox and former member of the groups Visage and Thin Lizzy as well. “I had spoken to young music students and they were asking me questions about multi-album deals, world tours and the like.
“It was pretty obvious that most of them in the room might never get a chance to do something like this,” he said. “So I wanted to show how hard it is to try and do this stuff on your own.”
At the end of the Fragile Troubadour tour in 2015, which Ure filmed, he wondered if he would ever do another like this.
“Probably not,” Ure said, he replied. “Because it was very hard work. “
But then the pandemic turned the world upside down, and suddenly the unthinkable seemed the right thing to do.
“With the way things have been over the past couple of years, I think it was time to go back, even if it seems a bit premature,” Ure said. “It’s one thing to play in front of your computer for die-hard fans around the world. It was not a substitute for face-to-face meetings.
“So I decided to get on board and go through the rigors again. “
Now, the Un-Zoomed and Face to Face Tour is heading to Southern California for performances on Friday, November 12 at the Concert Lounge in Riverside and on Sunday, November 14 at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.
New songs and visuals
Like many musicians stuck at home in 2020, Ure has decided to play music for fans online and his Backstage Lockdown Club provided audio and visual quality above most.
“I already have the audio quality because I have a studio,” he says. “I just had to find the best cameras. So I hit YouTube. I looked for young people, young people who vlog and blog and do all that.
When he was finished, he not only had a professional recording studio, but also enough video equipment to allow him to automatically move cameras and other near-professional tricks.
“I end up with that kind of on-screen appearance like I’m in a real video recording studio, not just with myself, because of the way it cuts between shots and things.” , explains Ure. “A lot of artists ask me how I do it, so I think I’m the go-to who will send them fact sheets.”
The Backstage Lockdown Club shows also expanded his ability to play solo and acoustic versions of songs he originally wrote for a band and electronic instruments.
“Just the nature of those few performances each month meant I was challenged by an audience,” says Ure, who recalls fans asking for less obvious cuts from his catalog. “I got to watching songs that I might never have performed before, certainly in this format before, and I explored some of them.
“So there will be tunes that I play this time around that I’ve never, never played before on any previous tour. And it was fun, because it really kept me on my toes. “
‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’
Ure shuffles his setlists from night to night, although most of the material is taken from his solo records and Ultravox albums. But one of his best-known songs probably won’t appear, at least not so early in the year.
In 1984, Ure and Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats wrote “Do they know it’s Christmas? As a famine relief fundraiser and recruited a host of stars such as Sting, Bono, Phil Collins and Boy George to sing it.
“It’s still a little premature for that, I think, but who knows?” he said during the New York call. “I’ve been here 10 days and watched America turn from pumpkins and brown leaves to Christmas overnight. It is quite spectacular to see.
Ure says when the 1984 winter break ended he thought it was the end of “Do they know it’s Christmas?” ” too much.
“Not once has it crossed our minds that if you have a successful Christmas song, even if it was very specific about famine, it might reappear the following year,” he says. “And then, you know, another 37 years later.”
This surprises him in part because he doesn’t consider the song to be a particularly good composition.
“But the record is working, the production is working,” says Ure. “It does something that wasn’t a good song to begin with – it’s a song with no chorus to begin with.
“Every time I hear the random song on the radio or in a supermarket or something, the opening sound, that intro, always gets me, it always does its job.”
And, he notes, it still does the job it was designed to do. He and Geldof donated their writers’ royalties to the Band Aid Trust.
“So yeah, who expected that?” said Ure. “It’s a source of income for the cause that no one has ever seen, so it was something.”
Midge Ure watch
12 november: The Concert Lounge, 3557 University Ave., Riverside. Tickets are $ 20 to $ 40.
14 november: The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, Suite CSan Juan Capistrano. Tickets cost $ 25.
For more: midgeure.co.uk/shows.html