Midge Ure is back. We went to see him two years ago on his first solo tour of New Zealand. Last time, there was a gap of 33 years between tours…this time, only two.
The venue where we saw him last time, Bodega, is now sadly defunct, so we were off to the San Fran (formerly San Francisco Bath House, formerly, er, an actual bathhouse) on Cuba Street. We’d taken the precaution of parking nearby before heading off to watch the cricket during the day, so we were able to dump our cricket paraphernalia in the car before stripping down to gig wear.
The venue didn’t open until 8pm so we were queuing outside in what was a chilly Southerly for about 20 minutes beforehand with Tor and Gavin. We pondered why they didn’t open earlier, as all they were doing was losing valuable drinking revenue, but I guess that’s their business. Once in, we still had a half hour wait before the first band came on.
Midge has brought some friends with him this time, in the form of the India Electric Company, who turn out to be two blokes who play a lot of instruments between them. They came on first as a support act, playing six songs of their own (OK, one was by Bruce Springsteen and two were traditional Irish songs, but you know what I mean. I hope.) Then they went off and a few minutes later, reappeared with Midge.
The premise of this tour is “something from everything”, i.e. to play at least one song from every album he’s been involved in. He explained that as part of the tour, he was obliged to front up to journalists on a regular basis, to publicise the tour. He told us that even though he explained very carefully, as he’d just done to us, they inevitably asked “so will you be playing any Thin Lizzy then?” Journalists eh? What to do?* As the tour has progressed this concept has been slightly reworked, and I think he may have decided to leave out an album or two from the 14 that Midge has been involved with over the years.
He played a few of the classics, but really, this tour was more about diving into the hidden gems of his back catalogue and exploring some of the more obscure tracks. Naturally he played Vienna, and he got us doing the “oh-oh-oh-oh”s on The Voice, same as last time, as well as singing along to Fade To Grey. One of the rarities that surfaced was The Damned Don’t Cry, from Visage’s second album, which Midge told us hadn’t been performed live before this tour, and maybe we were about to find out why. He made a decent hash of it though.
Overall, the addition of the India Electric Company added more substance than 2015’s solo performance, particularly with Joseph O'Keefe playing the violin parts on Ultravox songs, and allowed them to play the middle eight better than previously. They still didn’t do Astradyne, though.
* The answer’s “No”, because he didn’t record anything with Thin Lizzy, just toured with them for a while.