Last Tuesday, a crowd of people got out of the cold and huddled in the warmth and glow of San Diego’s Casbah venue. To a huge applause, a single man walked out on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a bottle of water. He welcomes, with a strong accent, the crowd to his show. This man, Midge Ure, then dives into a 19 song long acoustic set that spans more than 30 years of music.
Ure is nothing short of a veteran on stage. His time was long spent fronting the successful new wave band, Ultravox, whose fame, while widespread, seemed to garner only a fraction of the attention in the US. Throughout his incredible career, Ure has also found popularity playing in bands such as Rich Kids and Thin Lizzy, and spearheaded the charity relief concerts Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. Alongside the charity events, Ure and Geldof organized the “Band Aid” supergroup to sing “Do They Know Its Christmas” (co written and produced by Ure) to raise funds to help the crises in Africa.
With Band Aid 30 past this last Christmas, Ure is now focusing on the release of his new solo album, Fragile.
Nearly 13 years after Ure’s most recent album of new songs (Move Me), Ure dropped Fragile in July of last year, which is often reviewed as his best solo album to date.
Ure told us recently how he feels connected to this new album, namely tracks such as “Fragile,” “I Survived” and “Star Crossed.” He explains, “…they’re about subjects. It’s about real stuff. It’s about life It’s about me. its about the highs and lows of you go through. Irrespective of if you’re standing on one side of a microphone or the other. We all go through crap. Im fortunate enough to sit down and exorcise those ghosts by writing songs by putting into music. People who haven’t gotten that facility end up lying on their side on their psychiatrists couch somewhere. Music is my psychiatrists couch.”
Yet the writing process hasn’t changed much for him. Throughout his career he claims to approach his albums a bit differently than most. Instead of constantly and writing a prolific amount of songs, bringing them to a producer and recording a select few, Ure writes whilst in the studio, surrounded by instruments.
“I produce the track as I’m writing the song and I’m write the song as I’m producing the track.”
Though his album, much like his previous work, heavily incorporates a range of electronics, much of which drove Ultravox’s success, his tour throughout America this run is strictly acoustic. When asked if he finds any problems with playing his songs acoustically, there’s a confidence in his voice.
“It was at first and I’ll tell you when it started. I did a tour back in I think 1990, here in America. I dug my heels in and really didn’t want to do it. I’m not an acoustic performer. My record company at the time said ‘you should do it, it’s great, it’s good for you.’ So I did coast to coast of America over a six week period. And all the way through I played the same 3 or 4 songs because I was so scared to try and attempt something like ‘Vienna’ or Dancing with Tears in my Eyes’ or whatever, because I couldn’t get my head around the concept that those songs if their well-constructed, should make the translation. And of course by the end of that tour, the rest of the guys on the tour talked me into doing it and since I never looked back. I can perform most of my stuff without electronics.”
Live, Midge Ure commands attention. His persona on stage is one of an experienced performer, with a quick wit and plenty of one liners. His voice still stands the test of time and his willingness to spend time with his fans afterwards, signing autographs and taking pictures, really shows how genuine a person he is.