Friday, August 31, 2018

Concert Preview: Midge Ure (with Paul Young) in Riverside, Calif.

Back in the 1980s and early ‘90s, Midge Ure and Paul Young were a regular presence on the U.K. singles charts, with each racking up several top 20 hits. Ure led the sleek new wave band Ultravox, while Young’s stock-in-trade was blue-eyed soul interpretations of Motown and R&B classics.

During that period, both collaborated on Band Aid’s charity song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (Ure co-wrote and produced it; Young was the first voice heard). They also shared a stage during all-star extravaganzas like Live Aid, The Prince’s Trust (where Ure served as Music Director) and Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Tribute at Wembley Arena.

Yet neither had ever joined forces on the road.

In 2017, Young returned to play America after a long absence to take part in the Retro Futura tour. Seeking to do a more extensive run, he contacted old friend Ure for advice. 

“We talked and thought, ‘why don’t we do this together?’ It seemed to make sense,” said Ure, in a phone interview last week. “I knew musicians out here and got together a fantastic band” to share. “We’ve known each other for years, so it has worked out incredibly well.”

Two years ago, Young returned to active musical duty with the pleasant “Good Thing,” his first studio album in a decade, featuring trademark Memphis-styled soul/pop renderings of tracks by Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Ann Peebles and the Bee Gees.

Ure’s glorious latest album “Orchestrated” finds him reimagining Ultravox and solo faves. He spent 18 months doing the arrangements, “just to get something that was new and fresh - not just throwing on some strings.”

The Scottish musician thought his followers might liken the results to “a favorite piece of music and the artist goes and does some really dreadful re-recording.” Instead, “the response has been the exact opposite.” 

Fans attending in Riverside can look forward to hearing Young do such pop/adult contemporary radio hits as the No. 1 cover of Daryl Hall’s “Every Time You Go Away,” “Come Back and Stay,” “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” and the Zucchero duet “Senza una Donna,” while Ure will focus on Ultravox plus a few solo songs that received U.S. college/modern rock airplay (“Vienna,” “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes,” “Dear God”).

Before replacing the original Ultravox singer in 1979, Ure logged time in Thin Lizzy and Rich Kids (alongside ex-Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and briefly, Clash man Mick Jones). He also was part of synthpop band Visage, known for the ‘80 hit “Fade to Grey.”

Early on, KROQ/106.7 FM was instrumental in helping Ultravox gain Stateside attention.

“A few stations stuck their necks out and took a chance playing” the music. They were absolutely key. The support of (DJs) Richard Blade and Rodney on the ROQ was incredibly important to us.”

The memorable film noir-ish video to Ultravox’s signature song “Vienna” was among the first 150 clips aired on MTV in 1981. Lately, the dramatic tune has found new audiences, thanks to prominent placements in the TV dramas “13 Reasons Why” and “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” Ure was pleasantly surprised about its usage on the latter.

What about his Band Aid composition with Bob Geldof that ended up being a holiday perennial? Ure said everyone figured the impact and African famine relief funding would be short term. 

“All we were thinking about was that one Christmas. It never struck us that it would ever get played again. We thought it was a very specific song about a very specific cause. Every year, it appears on the radio, in compilation albums or movies. It’s really magnificent.”
With: Paul Young
When: 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 3
Where: The Concert Lounge, 3557 University Ave., Riverside
Tickets: $27.50
Information: 951-780-6000,

My interview originally appeared in Southern California News Group papers: OC Register, Press Enterprise, LA Daily News, Long Beach Press Telegram and others. 

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