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Culture, Music, Interviews

The Mighty, Magnificent, Mild-Mannered Midge Ure

Midge Ure

From bands including Slik and Rich Kids, to Visage, Thin Lizzy, and Ultravox plus a subsequent solo career, Midge Ure has been a key player in the music industry, and that’s before we delve into his prolific charity work with Band Aid, Save the Children and most recently, Covid charities around the world. He is also, famously, a delightful interviewee. I spoke with him ahead of his UK tour with The Voice & The Visions and can heartily concur…

What should audiences expect from The Voice & Visions tour?

This tour is a follow on from the previous tour, the 1980 tour. The response I got from that was phenomenal because people either hadn't heard those songs for a long time or hadn't heard them performed live ever. It was a real eye opener and it kind of I felt like a bit of a shepherd, going out and pulling the flock back in again.

It was great, so the requests came in thick and fast at the end of the tour to do another. The obvious thing was to include Rage in Eden, which is the follow up to Vienna, and then Quartet which was the follow up to Rage in Eden. The title came from two different songs, one from each album, The Voice from one album and Visions in Blue on the other. 

It must feel great to come back and revisit the music.

Well, you would think so, wouldn't you? Its a bittersweet trip, I have to say, because I don't listen to my stuff once I’ve done it. I only listen to anything I’ve done in the past for reference, so I had to go back down that rabbit hole and listen to these albums again and I say it’s bitter sweet because sometimes you find songs that you've kind of forgotten about that really stand out now much more so then they did at the time.

They resonate with you now much more than some of the others, and they tend to be the ones that when you perform them live they work beautifully on stage. Some of the others are kind of like listening to someone else’s record. I know it’s me but I dont remember doing it: lyrically or musically or whatever, it doesn't connect anymore because we aren't the same people, we're the same elements but we've moved on. I very sneakily cherry picked, and the ones that didn’t work live, I just left those to one side so if they happen to be someone’s favourite song, I’m sorry. So, the bones of it are those two albums, and of course, the hits that people expect to hear. 

It sounds like a form of therapy, actually. 

It was. I should have been listening to the songs lying on a couch, shouldn't I?

You’ve collaborated with so many icons of the music industry. Is there anyone you wish you’d worked with, or would like to work with in the future?

I think the big collaboration that was missing at Live Aid was John Lennon. He should have been there, because he helped instigate the whole ‘love love love’ thing, and I think as a character he was missing. Maybe not so much musically, but just to be there.

Today, there’s an Icelandic band, Sigur Rós, who I love and they would be an interesting collaboration. They make very cinematic, haunting, atmospheric music. That could be an interesting collaboration but that’s yet to come. I’m yet to bump into them in the corridors of Top of the Pops or wherever you meet people. 

Haha. I think you once described  your music as bombastic but that seems at odds with your public persona. I wondered which feels most true to your sense of self? 

I think everyone has an alter ego. I remember working with Peter Gabriel, who's the quietest soft-spoken character you could ever hope to meet, and we did a Princes’s Trust concert. He did a lovely piano piece and then jumped up on top of the the piano and jumped down and started Sledgehammer. He turned into this maniac, so we all have different sides to us. I dont think I’ve ever described my music as bombastic – I think that’s something reviewers would say – but there is a grandness to it, an atmosphere and its probably got to do with Scotland. It’s probably to do with the open landscapes; I think in a previous life I was from the north of Scotland. It’s always tugged at my heart strings for whatever reason and theres a drama to that, so there’s drama in what I do. 

Your charity work has changed lives and it feels like that side of you is on a par with your musicality. Where does that come from?

I think one leads to the other: having a few hit records gives you a platform and you can use that or not. When I found myself involved with Band Aid it was around about the time that my first daughter was born and I had become a parent and that changes someone. It’s not all about me, all of a sudden you have other responsibilities. I also think its not a difficult thing – no one’s asked me to go and perform brain surgery. I haven’t had to do anything difficult. All I’ve ever done is do what I do but for someone else, and that’s not a hardship.

Well, you say that, but not everyone does it. Finally, you turn 70 later this year, how are you feeling about that? 

You know what, I think if I was bed ridden I’d be feeling dreadful about it, but I’m not. I’m still enthusiastic about everything I do and I still get an absolutely kick out of it. It’s just another number, isnt it? Getting there is the journey, the fun part, and then I’ll see what happens beyond that. One of the questions I get all the time in interviews now is being asked if I’m retiring. Retiring from what? Most people retire from a job they don’t like and there’s nothing better than what I do. 

The Voice & The Visions Tour will be touring the UK, including 29 April at The Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and 31 May at The Swindon Meca.

Tickets for can be bought from as well as venue box offices.


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