Updated: Tuesday, 25th February 2020 @ 8:29pm

'Their excitement rubs off on you': Midge Ure 'having a ball' ahead of Manchester gig

'Their excitement rubs off on you': Midge Ure 'having a ball' ahead of Manchester gig

| By Chad Whitaker

Even if you don’t immediately recognise his name, you’re more than likely to have heard his music.

Penning some of the most recognisable hits around, Midge Ure is the man behind Feed the World, Vienna and Dancing With Tears in my Eyes, to name a few.

Now, for his Something from Everything tour, Midge is set to play an eclectic mix of his seminal pop hits.

“It does what it says on the tin,” he told MM.

I'm going to be doing songs as far back as 1978 – stuff from Visage, Ultravox, and The Rich Kids – some which I’ve probably never played before.

Something from Everything marks a continuation of successful solo concerts, a format he thinks makes for a more flexible touring experience compared to playing with a full band.

The Ultravox frontman has enlisted the on-stage support of duo Electric India Co.

“Band touring is fun, I have to say it’s great – but it’s kinda rigid, kinda fixed,” he said.

“The format I'm taking out for this tour, there’s only three of us onstage – me and the two multi-instrumentalist guys that I toured with last year – so it’s easy enough for us to say ‘I don't really want to play those tonight, let’s play these instead’.

“It’s just a bit more fluid I think than touring with a band.

“You can get quite jaded by it all, you know what to expect, but these guys, their enthusiasm and excitement for it all, it just rubs off on you.

“I can feel it on stage, I can see them having a ball – it really lifts things, it’s fantastic.”

A veteran of the music industry, the Scottish singer has seen significant change with a career stretching back to his 1976 teen pop band Slick.

From his perspective, it’s a change for the worst with success being more illusive for young artists than ever before.

“The music industry was never easy to get into,” he said. 

It’s always been difficult, it’s always been very selective, but there was a process back then.

“You played in a band, you cut your teeth playing in clubs and pubs, and you’d hopefully work your way up the live circuit and hope that someone would spot you.

“These days I have no idea how it works at all.

“You have to be a master of social media to build up any kind of following, and you have to be a bit of a wizard to conjure yourself up a gig.

“They haven’t just moved the goalposts on how you become successful in the industry, they’ve hidden the pitch.”

Far from measuring his own success by the number of records he’s sold though, Midge instead looks to his peers.

“The only success that you can gauge is the admiration from other artists, people you admire,” he said.

“I remember having a conversation with George Martin when he was producing an Ultravox album, and we were talking about this kind of stuff, and he said ‘I don’t write with many people, but I’d like the co-write this song with you’.

“I thought 'Jesus, that’s just off the radar'. You don’t expect it.

“You don’t do duets with Kate Bush and sit and play guitar one on one with Eric Clapton without them kind of mildly respecting what you might be able to do.”

Fame wasn’t something he had anticipated, and the first signs of it were punctuated with what he describes as a ‘bizarre’ and ‘surreal’ period of his life.

“It was exciting but I didn’t know what I was doing, I had no idea, and I found myself in London with Mick Jones and Sid Vicious,” he said.

“All the stuff that I’d read about, all of a sudden I’m in the middle of it.

“I used to go every day to the telephone box down the road because I didn’t have a phone in my flat, and I’d phone up every day to the management office.

“It was just the most bizarre thing because I’d be standing in this phone box without two pennies to rub together to be told that I’m selling hundreds of thousands of records, it was the most alien thing.

“Not only that, [Ultravox’s] Vienna and Visage’s Fade to Grey charted on the same day – so after all these years of having nothing, all of a sudden I’ve got two singles in the charts at the same time.

“It was bizarre to say the least.”

As for his future endeavours, Midge alluded to some new material in the pipeline.

“I’m back in the studio to do something creative, what it ends up as I’m not quite sure but I’ve got to get in there and make something new,” he said.

“Otherwise you go crazy, you feel like a karaoke machine playing the same hits all the time.”

Midge Ure plays the Lowry Centre on October 24. 

Image courtesy of Epic Studios, via YouTube, with thanks