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An Interview with Midge Ure: The Voice of the New Romantic Era

Midge Ure has rare the ability to appeal to everyone. From his 1970s punk band the Rich Kids—fronted by original Sex Pistols bassist, Glen Matlock—to his New Romantic endeavor, Visage, with superstars Steve Strange and Rusty Egan, Ure has become a staple in our record collections with his work in Ultravox, skyrocketing the band into mainstream success after the departure of John Foxx. His distinctive tenor voice and unforgettable pencil thin mustache are now synonymous with early 1980s electronic and New Romantic movements.

Now—nearly 40 years later since the beginning of his music career—Ure embarks on a North American tour of his greatest hits through the years. Post-Punk got the opportunity to have a quick chat with Ure about his upcoming tour, the passing of bandmate Steve Strange and Ure’s undeniable legacy in electronic music. Tour dates listed below.

Photo by Heiko Roith

Photo by Heiko Roith

The last time you toured with a full band in the United States was 2014. How will it be different this time? Can we expect any surprises in terms of song choice? 

I am trying out a few different Ultravox era songs and working on how to arrange them for the line up. We are basically guitar, bass and drums but with a healthy sprinkling of synths. The two guys I am using, one of which toured with me back in 2014, are hugely talented multi instrumentalists so we should be fine with whatever we decide to play.

For the New York City concert, you’ll have the special guest Richard Lloyd from Television on guitar. How did that collaboration come about?
Television were one of the groundbreaking bands of the ‘new wave’ so when it was suggested Richard do the shows I was very happy. I think it gives people value for money getting a bill like that.

What is your favorite song to play live?
I love doing things like “Passing Strangers” from [Ultravox’s] Vienna album or trying out the newer stuff like the title track from my last solo album Fragile. I’m really enjoying playing my guitar at the moment.

Speaking of collaborations, you just played a one-off show with Glen Matlock and Rusty Egan as the Rich Kids. How was that experience, nearly four decades later?

That was unexpected fun! I really didn’t know what to expect, especially now Steve New isn’t with us any longer. When Spandaus Ballet’s Gary Kemp stepped up to fill Steve’s shoes—he’s a massive Rich Kids fan—then it became feasible. It was loud, powerful and very melodic. Much better than I ever imagined.

Your voice is so distinct and beautiful – it’s one of the trademarks of new romantic and early 80s synthpop music, in my opinion. But not only that, your contributions with Visage firmly situated you in music history. Can you recognize that influence in new bands and electronic acts?

I have heard the late seventies, early eighties electronic influence in various guises over the last twenty years but that is very flattering and it’s how music evolves. We are all influenced by other musicians, writers, producers and genres. As long as influence doesn’t turn into just retro, recreation and moves forward a little that is fine.

Steve Strange, Midge Ure and Rusty Egan

Steve Strange, Midge Ure and Rusty Egan

What was it like to hear about the passing of Steve Strange?

Steve inhabited that night club world which comes with a hefty health warning and he wasn’t unscathed by it. I think we all suspected that something might happen but through excess rather than natural causes. Rusty Egan phoned me a few hours before the news was confirmed and released to the public. It was a very surreal few hours.

Your David Bowie cover of “The Man Who Sold the World” is one of my favorite Bowie covers ever – it’s so haunting. Can you talk a bit about that? Are you a huge Bowie fan as so many artists from the 70s and 80s were?

I haven’t met a musician who doesn’t owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bowie. Directly or indirectly most people have been changed a little by what he achieved. Constantly pushing the barrier. Not always successful but always challenging. I’m proud to have met him.

North American Tour Dates
September 30 – Amityville, NY – Revolution
October 01 – Pawling, NY – Daryl’s House
October 02 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theater
October 04 – Bethesda, MD – Bethesda Blues & Jazz
October 05 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe
October 06 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse
October 07 – Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall
October 08 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
October 09 – Ferndale, MI – Magic Bag
October 10 – Cleveland, OH – Music Box Supper Club
October 12 – Chicago, IL – Martyrs
October 13 – Milwaukee, WI – Shank Hall
October 14 – Louisville, KY – The New Vintage
October 15 – Atlanta, GA The Earl

An Interview with Midge Ure: The Voice of the New Romantic Era
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