As a precursor to tonight`s main event we had Rusty Egan, former DJ at the New Romantic nightclub Blitz in London. Rusty had collaborated with Midge Ure and had been a member of the new wave band The Rich Kids and also synth band Visage with him. What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable thirty minutes of stories from his youth, spliced with some records from groups that he either brought to a wider audience or promoted. There were tales of going to Dusseldorf to find Kraftwerk to David Bowie coming to the Blitz to find extras for his `Ashes To Ashes` video. A whole list of bands and records from the eighties followed with Spandau Ballet, Gary Numan, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Magazine and B Movie. It was not only entertaining but heartening to see how enthusiastic Rusty still is about music. He`s the sort of guy it`d be great to spend a night out with just to be regaled by his musical life experiences.
Tonight`s main event was billed as `Vienna and Visage – 1980 Tour` and Midge`s band Electronica, Joseph O`Keefe (Piano, Keyboards, Violin), Cole Stacey (Keyboards and bass) and Russell Field (drums) took to the stage along with Rusty on a stand up drum kit just before Midge came on stage and shared `Yellow Pearl` a song written with the late Philip Lynott, which became the new Top Of The Pops theme tune. `Visage`, `Blocks on Blocks` and a cover of Zager and Evans `In The Year 2525` sung through a vocoder, followed by `Mind Of A Toy` and `Fade To Grey` rounding off the Visage section of the show, Rusty leaves and Midge and the band play Ultravox`s ground breaking album “Vienna” in full.
“Vienna” was Ultravox`s fourth studio album and the first where Midge Ure had replaced John Foxx, who had left to pursue a solo career. Midge`s participation revitalised the band and steered it to commercial chart success. `Astradyne` the wonderfully sweeping instrumental gets us underway with its superb synthesizer harmonies. The release is played in order with highlights for me being `New Europeans`, `Passing Strangers` my favourite `Sleepwalk`, “Vienna` and `All Stood Still` I must admit I’d forgotten how good this album was and what an excellent frontman Midge is. The violin inflections were sublime, and Midge seemed to relish the times he was able to step forward and share his guitar proficiencies with some delightful solos. The album completed; the guys took their leave only to be encouraged to return for a well-deserved encore. Birmingham was the first venue on the tour that sold out which put a real smile on the singer`s face. ` Passionate Reply` the b side of `Vienna` is belted out as the audience get to their feet to sing, shout, clap and dance along to `Dancing With Tears In My Eyes`, `If I Was` and `Hymn`
This was a well thought out and superbly structured show, with some talented musicians and a frontman who probably doesn`t get the critical recognition he deserves. This album was really innovative and has stood the test of time. The show tours around the country until the end of the month, if you can obtain a ticket, I’d encourage you to do so as you will not be disappointed.