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    Midge Ure announces 2016 UK tour

    Musician and Ultravox front man Midge Ure is back on the road this Autumn with his 2016 UK Tour. Sarah caught up with Midge to talk guitars, collaborations and his iconic songs…

     

     

    Liverpool is a city you’ve visited often and you tour here quite regularly. What it’s like to bring your latest tour to Liverpool?

    Liverpool is great; the home of melody I call it. It’s got a strong musical heritage, so it’s always great being in Liverpool. I have quite strong ties with LIPA [Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts] and historically, Liverpool is quite important to me, because it’s one of the first places I played with one of my first bands The Rich Kids. We played at Erics. I have quite strong connections with it [Liverpool]; the people are such great characters, very musical characters - much like Glasgow! It’s such a fantastic thing to have; it’s in the water and just grows from the city.

     

     

    How do you choose the songs for your tour, as you have such an extensive back catalogue? It’s not just the Ultravox songs, but also newer tracks such as ‘Fragile’, which has some of the most beautiful and emotive lyrics I have ever heard…

    It’s kind of the reason for doing the ‘Something from everything’ tour. When you do go out, you’re either promoting a new album or you’re playing the older stuff. As you pointed out, there is a lot of songs. There’s a lot of stuff I have never really played live or not played very much, so I came up with the idea of trying to cover most of the ground I’ve gone over. From The Rich Kids in 1978, through Visage and Ultravox to my solo work and the Fragile album, I’ll choose things to translate from the recorded versions to the way I’m going to perform them this time around, which is with these two great multi-instrumentalists. These two guys play everything; violin, mandolin and everything in between. I toured with them last year, performing the Breathe album and it was so successful. The audience loved it so much that we decided to do this. There’ll be the hits, but in amongst the hits, you might be in for a few surprises. 

     

     

    Speaking of the Breathe album, last year you released Breathe again: Live and Extended. It’s an incredible album with beautiful interpretations of songs including ‘Vienna’. Did you choose to perform acoustic versions of the songs, because the guitar is where your musical journey began?

    Well you can do a perfectly good performance without all the bells and whistles. We don’t put on a big light show, but it’s not about the light show. There are moments when that stuff is important, but it’s the music that’s important and the songs that are important - Getting the lyrics across and getting the ideas across, touching people the way that music should touch people. With these two guys, you still have all those textures and ambience that are in the records, but there’s something more poignant about it. People really do get touched by the music; they just kind of think wow, especially on that album [Breath again: Live and Extended], where people didn’t necessarily know every song. A lot of people have said ‘I don’t know this tune’ and then they go back and find the recording and fall in love with it all over again. It’s great!

     

     

    As you said the interpretations on Breath Again are poignant, particularly ‘Fallen Angel’, which is extremely beautiful. Can we expect more interpretations like this on your tour?

    Yes, I think so; it’ll be an extension of what you’ve heard on the Breath Again: Live and Extended album. It’s the same format, but slightly different - There’ll be some keyboards and some piano. During the Breath again tour, Joseph (who plays the Violin), didn’t tell me that his first instrument was piano! I happened to find him in the dressing room playing the piano and he was amazing! That lends itself to a whole wealth of other songs that I can’t play unless someone is playing piano. That’s opened up a whole area for me.

     

     

    Over your career you have collaborated with musicians including Phil Lynott and Steve Strange, but there is one collaboration that totally inspired me - ‘After a fashion’ with bassist Mick Karn. How did the song come about?

    Mick’s bass playing and idea of music was completely radical - I’d never heard anything like it before or met anyone who thought about music that way. He would play what he’d feel. He’d feel his way around the guitar neck and play what he heard in his head, which was amazing. It started because we were invited to perform at the first ever Princes Trust concert. Sir George Martin was the Musical Director and Pete Townsend was the band leader. They asked me to play guitar and Mick was the bass player. We’d known of each other, but had never met. We just hit it off and became great friends. When you find musicians that you respect and admire - and they happen to be really nice people - you work together. It’s the best thing in the world! From there we wrote ‘After a Fashion’, with a view to writing an album, but we just never got round to doing the album. I’m just so pleased to have something recorded that we did together, because he was such a unique character.

     

     

    Definitely - the technical skill of Mick’s bass playing was incredible, particularly on songs such as ‘Sons of Pioneers’…

    Oh yes! Tin Drum [by Japan] is a brilliant album. I still play it today - it’s just fantastic.

     

     

    You’re also a skilled guitarist and when I heard you play ‘Dancing with tears in my eyes’, the build up was just extraordinary! It really got the audience going! Do you still have the semi-acoustic Gibson 330 that you mention in your autobiography If I was?

    Sadly I don’t! I hounded my parents to get me a guitar. They saw that I was passionate about it, so when I was seventeen or eighteen, I saw this old Fender Stratocaster in a window and I talked my parents into getting a loan to buy this guitar. I got this guitar and they were horrified, because I brought it home and decided to pull it apart. I rebuilt it all, sanded it down, made it look really cool, put it back together again and then swapped it at another music shop for the Gibson 330 - which I did the exact same thing to! I got home, sanded it all down and they were horrified, but they could see that I knew what I was doing.

     

     

    Midge Ure’s UK Tour commences in October, with a date in Liverpool on 23rd October 2016.

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