On Stage: Midge Ure share four decades of history

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Midge Ure

Back in 1975, the penultimate track on the Kinks’ “Schoolboys in Disgrace” was a song titled “No More Looking Back.” In the song, Ray Davies sang, “No more looking back, No more living in the past, Yesterday’s gone and that’s a fact, Now there’s no more looking back.”

The same year, Midge Ure was playing guitar with the Scottish rock band Slik. In the 45 years since, Ure has played a key role in the history of British rock.

It’s now 2020 and Ure is not paying any attention to what Davies wrote almost a half-century ago.

The Grammy and Brit Award winning musician is touring North America with his “Songs, Questions and Answers Tour 2020.” The tour visits the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) on February 4.

Ure wrapped up his European leg of “The 1980 Tour” late last year and then kicked off this year with the “Songs, Questions and Answers Tour 2020.”

“The Australian/New Zealand portion of ‘The 1980 Tour’ doesn’t pick up again until March,” said Ure, during a phone interview last week from Missouri as he drove from Kansas City a gig in St. Louis.

“This a month-long run of my ‘Songs, Questions and Answers Tour’ across North America. It’s an extension of something I did 25 years ago.”

Some of you may not recognize Midge Ure’s name but you’ve almost definitely heard his music

If you know the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — you’ve heard Ure’s music. That was a song he co-wrote with Bob Geldof and presented to the world as Band Aid. Ure co-organized Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Geldof. He also serves as ambassador for Save the Children.

Ure’s musical repertoire is long and varied, including the song “Breathe,” which in 1996 became the soundtrack of a massive European “Swatch” campaign. His list of former bands includes Slik, the Rich Kids, Thin Lizzy, Ultravox and Visage.

Slik had a monster hit with “Forever And Ever”, while the Rich Kids was a band put together by ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock. Ure became most famous as the front man who replaced John Foxx in Ultravox and was the singer on such Ultravox hits as “Reap the Wild Wind”, “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes” and the timeless classic “Vienna.”

“With the new album, it was the label – Chrysalis Records – that wanted me to do it,” said Ure. “That was one of the earliest labels I was on. They got bought by EMI.”

Chrysalis went through mergers and assimilations with other record companies. In May 2016, Blue Raincoat Music purchased Chrysalis Records Ltd and most of the British signed artist catalogue from Warner Music Group.

“I told Chrysalis that I didn’t want to do a ‘Best Of’ album,” said Ure. “That had already been done before. I told them I wouldn’t mind doing a retrospective album.”

As a result, Ure released “Soundtrack 1978-2019” on September 20 via Chrysalis Records. The 32-song collection encompasses four decades of Ure’s rich and varied career.

In addition to many classic Ultravox and Midge Ure solo tracks, this collection also features previously unreleased material. One of these songs is a new remix of 2014’s “Dark Dark Night,” which was co-written and performed with Moby.

“It started in 1978 with Rich Kids when I bought a synthesizer and goes all the way to 2019,” said Ure. “If you just arrived from Mars and wanted to hear my music history, this is it. The label first started talking about it 18 months ago. A single album would have been boring.

“I hand-picked all the tracks. It took a while to find all the footage. It’s a double CD and a DVD with as many videos as I could get my hands on – and some documentaries. I did voice-over dialogue on top of the videos. It’s a great package.

“It took me a while. I had to force myself to look at a long list of material – material from 40 years. It was like coming home form school and doing homework.

“It took me a bit of time to go through it. I was in no hurry. There was no rush to decide if I wanted that song to represent an era.

“If you look back, you see that your tastes change and your standards get higher – for example, why were the vocals so quiet on a song…why did I put that chorus on. Tastes change over the years.

“Recently, I was on tour in Europe playing the entire (Ultravox) ‘Vienna’ album. Some of those songs could have been written yesterday. With ‘Soundtrack 1978-2019,’ the label cared about it as much as I did. I’m proud of this one.”

Songs that are on “Soundtrack 1978-2019” along with a lot of other classic Ure gems will find their way onto the set list for his “Songs, Questions and Answers Tour.”

“I walk on and play the first song,” said Ure. “From then on, the entire evening is driven by the audience. I play requests, talk about the songs and answer whatever questions the audience asks. It’s just me and my guitar – nothing to hide behind. It’s a very open and honest format.”

Ure isn’t “living in the past” but he isn’t buying into the “no more looking back” philosophy – and that’s a good thing for music fans.

Video link for Midge Ure – https://youtu.be/7DF8rNclM-8.

The show at the Sellersville Theatre, which has Cliff Hillis as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25 to $39.50.

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