10 October 2019
@The Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cambridge
Words and pix by DAN SLY
See ten more pix from a similar gig here

Synth-tastic! What a pleasure it was to be present to see the great Midge Ure still playing and still rocking at The Cambridge Corn Exchange on a rainy but warm October evening. I can’t lie, even though I had been more a Duranie when I was at school, I was extremely excited in anticipation of hearing both Visage and Vienna album tracks completely live! I’d even grown a thin moustache in homage to the man and was ready for a trip back to the 1980s.

The Cambridge crowd, who were all sat down which threw me a bit, were warmed up by the legendary Rusty Egan – co-founder of Visage and former Rich Kids band member, playing alongside Midge back in the late 1970s. Rusty entertained us by spinning his decks and playing his favourite synth and new wave tracks, while reciting tales of debauchery and new romantic rock gods over the top of the tunes.

After a short break and to rapturous applause Midge came on around 9pm, kicking the set off with ‘Visage’ - the title song of the famous album from 1980. Rusty was back on stage banging the electronic drums and along with the support band ‘Electronica’, Midge proceeded to knock out some Visage classics including ‘Block On Blocks’ and ‘In The Year 2525’. We were then treated to the timeless and crowd pleasing ‘Fade To Grey’.

Midge, a guitarist by trade, was warmed up and his vocals were solid. We could also see that he was very comfortable and content rocking out on his Epiphone Les Paul. The crowd then started to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him (it was his 65th birthday!) and he responded with thanks and by saying “I’m still here you know, although running on batteries nowadays!”, much to the amusement of all his fans.

So now it was Ultravox and Vienna album time and Midge started off with a few of the lesser known tracks including the stomping beats of ‘Passing Strangers’ and then continued on to the popular ‘Sleepwalk’ - the first single released from the Vienna album in 1980. Midge was keen to remember the old days and referenced it “as a wonderful time when everything was changing” and thanked the other members of the “mighty Ultravox” for their help in making the music.

As the album tracks kept coming, we eventually arrived at ‘Vienna’ which was immediately recognisable from that thumping bass/thunderclap synth intro which sent shivers down my spine. The crowd stood and cheered. It was epic. It was a true privilege hearing these timeless tracks in a live setting, with many of them sounding like they could have been written yesterday.

We knew now that we were nearing the finish line and as other classics such as ‘All Stood Still’ and ‘The Voice’ came our way, we were then greeted to an encore of ‘Dancing with Tears In My Eyes’ and then a second encore finishing with ‘Hymn’. The Cambridge crowd were no longer sitting in their seats, they were all up and they were dancing, absolutely loving it. I’d forgotten how much of an impact the 1980s and this Ultravox album had had not only on music, but also on us as music fans. I thank Midge Ure for reminding me - what a ledg.

Dan Sly

Thanks also to Warren at Chuff Media for sorting this out.