CONCERT REVIEW: Midge Ure 1980 Vienna and Visage – Barrowland, Glasgow 13th October 2019

Photo Credit James Edmond

A wet weather front moving through Glasgow could not keep the crowds away from the famous venue. This was a coming home party and a night to remember for the fans and for Midge that was raised only a few miles from the venue. Midge was raised with the Glasgow weather so it was not a surprise that it was pouring down outside. This did not dampen the mood as the venue was buzzing with most fans in the 40 plus age bracket, who would have witnessed their idol play the legendary venue over the years, either with Ultravox or Midge on his solo tours, such nights would always be remembered, as the atmosphere from the crowds outside and inside the ballroom emulated such views.

It was time for the support, this was not your ordinary support this was Co-founder of Visage Rusty Egan, this time not on the drums but taking the audience on a magical tour and history of electronic music, going back to the late seventies to present day, showing how sampling developed way back then, with increased technology, to the sound we have today. This was not about Rusty chatting as support,  he was there DJ’n with a difference, showing you how music was created through adding tracks and sequences to create songs we all know and love, going way back to the likes of OMD, early Simple Minds to present day artists.  He was telling stories about how he recommended Simple Minds to Virgin records after seeing them play in the famous Marrs Bar venue in the city. This was different from your usual support, it was a history lesson that had you captivated by the stores and hearing how it was achieved through mixing and sampling. Rusty finished up with saying will see you back here in 15 minutes.

The stage was set with blue lights  from the rear of the stage, the atmosphere was outstanding, the crowd  anticipating the arrival of Midge Ure to the stage. As the intro music faded out the band took to the stage including Rusty Egan back on his electronic drum kit at stage right. The music began, within a minute Midge walked on to the stage to a hero’s welcome, you could see by his reaction it hit him hard, it was a true home town welcome. He went straight to the synth and joined in with the rest of his Electronica band to perform the Phil Lynott classic “Yellow Pearl”, this is a track most wont know by name but they know the music as it was the theme tune to the music show Top of the Pops, this was going to be the start of a chart topping performance from Midge as the smiles on the audience faces seeing and hearing the music, you could feel the energy in the room, this was taking the Barrowland to a different level from what you would expect, from front to the back you could see and feel the excitement from the opening track.

“That was some welcome back to Glasgow”, say’s Midge. Looking in to the audience you could see he was taking in every person in the room with his eyes and smiled over to Rusty. This was followed by a trip back to his Visage days with Rusty. The Glasgow audience were delighted to hear “Visage”, Blocks on Blocks”, “The Dancer” and “Mind of a Toy”, some of them never imagined hearing them live, apart from playing old vinyl or CD’s, tonight was a night to remember for any fan of Midge, and a lover of  excellent music. The journey continued with “Glorious”, a song that set the fire on a glorious evening.

Midge says to the audience, “I think this is the song you have all been waiting for”, a pause as Midge steps back to the synth, the opening note of “Fade to Grey” started and the Barrowland crowd erupted in singing and dancing along to the beats from the song. As the show entered its half way stage the opening notes of “Astradyn”, the lights flashing around chasing stars and the white spot light focused n Midge as he powered through this track from the 1980 Vienna album that we are being treated to a live performance of tonight. The classic album is still as fresh today as it was back 40 years ago, from “New Europeans”, Private Lines”, Passing Strangers” then came the excellent “Streetwalk”, played in all its glory, with the crowd singing along and dancing from the front to the back of the venue, Midge had the crowd eating out of his hand as classic Ultravox was back where it belongs, enjoying the moment, waiting  to see what other classic would be aired tonight, they new they were coming, to hear the Vienna Album in its full but to hear it played live was not what they had expected, Midge  took this album to another level, songs like  “Mr X”, “Western Promise” before the highlight and biggest hit from the album, “Vienna”. A few tears of delight from the audience, emotions running high, the song rang around the venue from the front doors to the famous Barrowland ceiling, it was felt with the drum beat and bass shaking the venue, the ghosts of the Barrowland were dancing like the venues glory days when it was the famous ballroom, now the wooden floor was feeling the dancing all over again to the sound of Midge Ure and Ultravox classic “Vienna”. With only one song left, time was fast approaching the venue curfew, it was time for “All Stood Still”, Midge delighted with the reaction of the Glasgow audience, to the closing beat he left the stage. The venue was buzzing after what they had just witnessed, one man backed with his band, going through a lifetime of music under the one roof, and as the memories came flooding back, through the words and music, he left the audience wanting more, so much more.

Within a short period of time Midge was back on stage, adrenalin kicking in, he played “Passionate Reply” and leaving the stage after the amazing “Dancing with Tears in my eyes”, this was nothing short of the truth,  the crowd with tear glistened eyes, were dancing , they certainly did not want it to end. As he left the stage for a second time, the lights in the venue were still down, was this a clue that the man himself was going to return? Within a few minutes he was back, thanking the audience and the opening notes to “The Voice” could be heard to the delights of the fans, this was followed by “Hymn”, this was  the closing song of the evening, just under two hours of magic from the Glaswegian singer songwriter. A night to remember, from the venue in all its glory, the music, the band and Midge himself delivering a show of music covering four decades that still feels as fresh today as it did when they music was first released.

Glasgow’s Son returns to take us on a trip of a life times with music of a generation.

Photography by James Edmond Review by Karen Edmond