This event was billed as part of a Young at Heart Festival and it was a night of two halves. The first half was a sit-down interview with Midge conducted by Scottish broadcaster and music journalist Billy Sloan, followed by a second half where Midge performed some old and new songs.
It was a format that worked, no doubt due to the relaxed and well researched interviewing style of Billy and his subject Midge having such an interesting wealth of stories to draw from.
The evening felt like sitting in someone’s living room and listening to some easy banter, but where the stories are all interesting and engaging, and you’re not looking for an escape route to the kitchen.
Obvious topics for conversation were Midge’s collaborations with Bob Geldof, when the two hooked up together in the 80s and pulled off the Live Aid concert on 13th July 1985. Although they were obviously ambitious and passionate about their cause, I don’t think they anticipated just how ground-breaking an event they were embarking on.
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure
Those of us who remember a world before social media and the internet, can appreciate how difficult it must have been to pull musicians together for the Band Aid single. And Midge admitted that on the morning of recording, they were in the studio nervously waiting, with no idea who was going to turn up and who would sing what lines. Duly recorded the single was whizzed over to Radio One on a cassette tape. Remember those? A magical moment was when Midge turned on the radio and heard it getting its very first exclusive airplay.
And it was inspirational to hear how a young boy from Cambuslang managed to forge a career in the music industry and realise a dream, grafting in early bands such as Slik and Rich Kids and then forming the seminal Visage with Steve Strange.
Steve Strange and Midge Ure
There was also a stint with Thin Lizzy, where he answered an SOS call from Phil Lynott, after the abrupt departure of Gary Moore, which saw Midge on a flight to New York, learning guitar chords on the way.
It was an interesting and engaging chat full of fascinating stories which could have gone on for longer.
After an interval Midge backed with two excellent young male musicians performed some of his best known tracks and some from his new album Fragile. It’s his first release of original music for over a decade, although he has been recording other material during that period, such as a covers album, some live CDs and the latest Ultravox album Brilliant. Fragile, you could say, is a solo album.
It’s also the 20th anniversary of the Breathe album and he’s currently on a Breathe Again tour around the world. He has released an album called Breathe Again – in celebration, which includes the entire Breathe album and four bonus tracks (Lament, Fade to Grey, All Fall Down, Become).
It’s difficult perhaps to imagine an acoustic version of one of the most iconic tracks of the 80s – Vienna – but it worked, as did a brilliant version of Visage’s Fade To Grey. And Midge poignantly paid tribute to Steve Strange who sadly died this February.
What was evident from this evening was that after over 40 odd years in the music business and now at the age of 61, Midge is as passionate about music now as when he started. The old songs stand the test of time and judging by the new songs, he’s still got plenty to say.
He’s currently on tour – for more information see: Midge Ure website