Ultravox Whitley Bay Ice Rink 4th Nov 1986
The U-Vox tour
The tour was sponsored by Harp lager and support came from Zerra One.
U-Vox was Ultravox’s eight studio album and continued the movement to a straight rock and pop sound. The album was their least successful by most measures, and it was criticised by the media, the fans, and later by the band itself, Midge Ure declaring it “unfocused”. The band sacked their drummer Warren Cann, and replaced him with Mark Brzezicki from Big Country. The band embarked on a tour to promote the album, but it was the beginning of the end, and they split in 1988. The tour saw them playing in arenas; in the north east they played the cavernous, cold, Whitley Bay Ice Rink, which could accommodate more people than the City Hall, but was not by any means the best venue for a rock concert. The band moved away from large gothic stage sets, choosing to stage a more straightforward rock show this time around.
SetList: Same Old Story; The Voice; New Europeans; Sweet Surrender; White China; Dream On; All in One Day; Time to Kill; All Stood Still; Hymn; Lament; Vienna; Passing Strangers; The Prize; One Small Day; Love’s Great Adventure
Encore: Dancing With Tears in My Eyes; All Fall Down
Writing this blog helps refresh my memory about the bands who I have seen in the past. Writing about Ultravox is a good example. I’d forgotten how many times I’d seen the band, and how much I enjoyed their music and their concerts. Both versions of the and were impressive in their own way. The first, John Foxx fronted, Ultravox! were very different to anyone else around at the time, and were a cool, dark, electronic synth band. I remember in particular their performance at Reading in 1978. And will also connect the later, Midge Ure fronted, Ultravox with “Vienna”, dry ice, and gothic stage sets. Happy days that I had put to the back of my mind and almost forgotten. Tomorrow I will start to write about a band who I remember very well, the mighty Uriah Heep. I’ll make my apologies now, it could be a bit of a marathon….
Archive for the ‘Ultravox!’ Category
Ultravox Whitley Bay Ice Rink 4th Nov 1986
Ultravox Newcastle City Hall 19th May 1984
Support from Messengers
Ultravox’s 1984 tour was to promote “Lament” which is their seventh studio album. “Lament” was another big success, reaching No.8 on the UK album chart and achieving a gold record. By this time the band were starting to move away from synthpop, going in a more mainstream pop direction, with more guitar-oriented rock songs. The album featured three singles, including the big hit “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”. The 1984 tour was called the “Set Movements” tour and once again included two sold-out concerts at Newcastle. I attended the second night. The tour was sponsored by Levis. The tour programme has a completely black rough-textured cover and features some quite arty and very posed photographs of the band. The Ultravox tours of this time featured massive gothic stage sets with quite dark moody themes and images, and lots of dry-ice. They were quite spectacular, and always good fun.
Setlist: Man of Two Worlds; Passing Strangers; We Stand Alone; New Europeans; I Remember (Death in the Afternoon); Visions in Blue; Heart of the Country; Western Promise; Vienna; Reap the Wild Wind; We Came to Dance; White China; One Small Day; Hymn; The Voice
Encore: Lament; Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
Later that year Midge wrote and commandeered the Band Aid single with Bob Geldof. I saw Ultravox at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium where they played a short four song set: Reap the Wild Wind; Dancing With Tears in My Eyes; One Small Day and of course Vienna.
I saw Ultravox on one further occasion, which I will write about tomorrow before moving on to blog about, I think, Uriah Heep.
Ultravox Newcastle City Hall 16th Nov 1982
Support from Messengers
Ultravox released their sixth album “Quartet” (their third with Midge Ure) in 1982 and toured around the world to promote it on the Monument Tour. By now they had followed the success of “Vienna” with a series of Top 20 UK singles: “All Stood Still”, “The Thin Wall”, “The Voice”, “Reap the Wild Wind” and “Hymn”. The band were very popular, so much so that this time they sold out two nights at the City Hall. I attended the second night. The Monument Tour was recorded for posterity in the form of a video and an lp “Monument” which was recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, and released in 1983.
The Monument album peaked at no.9 on the UK album chart and was certified Gold in January 1984. The City Hall show was another great concert from a band who were at the top of their game.
Support came from Messengers a duo aka Danny Mitchell and Colin King, friends from Glasgow of Midge Ure and who supported Ultravox again in 1984. Mitchell has co-written songs with Midge Ure for many years.
Setlist: Reap the Wild Wind; When the Scream Subsides; The Thin Wall; New Europeans; We Stand Alone; I Remember (Death in the Afternoon); Visions in Blue; Mr. X; Sleepwalk; The Voice; Vienna; Astradyne; All Stood Still; Passing Strangers; Mine for Life
Encore: Hymn; The Song (We Go)
Ultravox Newcastle City Hall 24th Sep 1981
Support from Eddie and Sunshine (Eddie Maelov and Sunshine Patterson ex Gloria Mundi)
Ultravox! – John Foxx + Midge Ure = New Revitalised Ultravox = Vienna = Mega Success
So Ultravox regrouped with their new ( ex Slik ex Rich Kid) Midge, became a cool new romantic pop band and produced one of the greatest singles of the 80s. “Vienna”. Dark, brooding, gothic. The ultimate in 80s synth pop. The moody video. It was worth going to see them just for that one song.
Ultravox live = Vienna = lots of dry ice = very much of its time. Wonderful.
“We walked in the cold air.
Freezing breath on a window plane.
Lying and waiting. A man in the dark in a picture frame.
So mystic and soulful. A voice reaching out in a piercing cry.
It stays with you until the feeling has gone,
Only you and I. It means nothing to me.
This means nothing to me.
Oh, Vienna” (Vienna, Ultravox, 1981)
Setlist: The Thin Wall; New Europeans; Sleepwalk; I Remember (Death in the Afternoon); Stranger Within; Mr. X; Rage in Eden; Accent on Youth/The Ascent; Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again); Vienna; Passionate Reply; Passing Strangers; We Stand Alone; All Stood Still
Encore: The Voice
Ultravox! 1977 & 1978
Early Ultravox! were quite different from the Midge Ure fronted band who produced Vienna. I saw the band on a few occasions:
16th April 1977 Middlesbrough Rock Garden
27th August 1977 Reading Festival (low down on the Saturday bill)
5th Feb 1978 Redcar Coatham Bowl
25th August Reading Festival (special guests on the Friday, appearing second on the bill to headliners The Jam)
I may also have seen them at Newcastle Mayfair, but can’t be sure.
The line-up of the band was John Foxx (lead vocals), Chris Cross (bass), Stevie Shears (guitar, replaced by Robin Simon in 1978), Billy Currie (keyboards, synthesisers, violin) and Warren Cann (drums). They recorded three albums: Ultravox!, Ha!-Ha!-Ha! And Systems of Romance. By their third album they had dropped the ! from their name. Ultravox! were an interesting band. Live they appeared a mix of Roxy, Bowie and Kraftwerk, combining glam and pop with punk and electronica. John Foxx was a charismatic and enigmatic front man, sometimes punky, sometimes robotic, always interesting. Foxx’s real name is Dennis Leigh, he chose the stage persona of John Foxx, saying: “Foxx is much more intelligent than I am, better looking, better lit. A kind of naively perfected entity. He’s just like a recording, where you can make several performances until you get it right – or make a composite of several successful sections, then discard the rest.” In 1979 Foxx left the band, who recruited Midge Ure and became a new entity.
Setlist Reading 1977: ROckwrok; Slip Away; The Frozen Ones; Distant Smile; Young Savage; My Sex; Wide Boys; Saturday Night in the City of the Dead; Artificial Life; The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned; Fear in the Western World
Live Aid Wembley Stadium 13th July 1985
I went with a couple of mates. We missed out on tickets when they went on sale and the only way we could get there was to buy tickets for a coach trip from Middlesbrough. So we were up at 4am, drove to Middlesbrough and joined a coach which left at 5am for London. We arrived well before noon, had a couple of drinks and entered the stadium, which was of course completely packed so we found a spot in the stands right at the back. A few minutes later Status Quo took to the stage with “Rockin’ All Over The World” and the day started. This was Quo reunited one year after the split, with Alan flying over from Oz to join Francis and Rick. Their short set also featured Caroline” and “Don’t Waste My Time”. A fitting start to the day. I have so many great memories of that day.
Queen’s performance is, of course, often rated as the greatest live performance by any band. Freddie certainly commanded the crowd the day and it propelled them to super stardom. Their well planned set was a medley with short sections of their anthems: “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Radio Ga Ga”, “Hammer To Fall”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions”. They had apparently been rehearsing their short set for days, to ensure perfection, and it showed, and worked. U2 weren’t far behind them, though, in terms of performance, with Bono showing how great a front man he was. U2 played two songs: “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and a lengthy version of “Bad” during which Bono dragged a girl from the rush down front to dance with him on stage, and which also included snippets from Lou Reed’s “Satellite of love” and “Walk On The Wild Side”, and The Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” and “Sympathy for the Devil”. Electric.
For me, however. the highlights were The Who and David Bowie, as I was, and remain, a big fan of both acts. Bowie started with “TVC15” (a strange and poor choice I felt, and remember being disappointed on the day), “Rebel Rebel” (great, good choice), “Modern Love” (well, ok) and then “Heroes” (we all sag along and it was pure magic). I still feel that with a better choice of songs Bowie could have eclipsed Queen and U2.
The Who performed “My Generation”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Love Reign O’er Me” (another strange song choice given the magnitude of the event) and a blistering “Won’t Get Fooled Again” with much mike swinging by Daltrey and lots of arm twirling by Townshend.
Other memories: Elton and Kiki sang “Don’t go Breaking my Heart” (great!). Paul McCartney suffered from sound problems and we couldn’t hear him at all for much of “Let It Be” although I gather it was fine on TV. Geldof drew massive cheers every time he set foot on stage, and he deserved every one of them. The scheduling worked amazingly, with very few hitches. Seeing the cameras pick out Charles and Diana over in their enclosure. The amazingly camp Bowie and Jagger video. The awful, sad and moving video of starving children played to the Cars’ “Drive”. Phil Collins playing Wembley and JFK courtesy of Concorde (show off).
But the truly unforgettable moment came at the end, and will stay in my mind for ever. That was the finale, with the entire stadium singing along to “Do They Know It’s Christmas ?” with Bob Geldof leading us, and everyone else on stage. I’ve never seen, felt, or heard anything like it before or since. We walked out of that stadium to the coach park, all of us still singing…..”Feed The World”…..
Then it was a long coach ride back to Middlesbrough. We arrived back around 5 or 6am, then drove home. 24 hours with hardly any sleep, just an hour or so caught on the bus, but a day I will remember forever.
Line-up: Status Quo; The Style Council; The Boomtown Rats; Adam Ant; Ultravox; Spandau Ballet; Elvis Costello; Nik Kershaw; Sade; Sting; Phil Collins; Howard Jones; Bryan Ferry (with David Gilmour on guitar); Paul Young/Alison Moyet; U2; Dire Straits/Sting; Queen; Video “Dancing in the Streets” by David Bowie/Mick Jagger; David Bowie; The Who; Elton John (Kiki Dee and George Michael join Elton); Mercury and May; Paul McCartney; Finale
The Reading Rock Festival 25 – 27th August 1978
This was the year punk finally arrived. The festival was now officially known as the Reading Rock Festival, having dropped “jazz” from the title and the line-up, and weekend tickets cost all of £8.95. Our old friend John Peel was compere, as always, and a van load of us descended on the riverside site, having driven part of the way down on Thursday, gone for a drink in Wetherby and slept on Wetherby racecourse (the crazy things you do when you are young 🙂 ) Highlights of the weekend for me were Penetration (I was a big fan at the time), Sham 69, The Jam, Status Quo (most of our group were heavily into them) and Patti Smith.
Friday line-up: Dennis O’Brien; The Automatics; New Hearts (who would become mods and change their name to Secret Affair); Radio Stars; Penetration; Sham 69; The Pirates; Ultravox; The Jam.
Memories: Radio Stars were always good for a laugh; “Dirty Pictures” (turn me on) was a favourite at the time; it was great to see local north east punk heroes playing up on the massive Reading stage Penetration, although they suffered from murky sound throughout their set; The Pirates rocked the place with no-nonsense rock’n’roll, “Shaking All Over” and ace guitarist the late Mick Green (a big influence on Wilko); and the John Foxx version of Ultravox! played a quite moody atmospheric electronic set. The main event was Sham 69, who were excellent with Jimmy Pursey his usual cockney “boy on the streets” self, and those anthems “What have we got?”, “Borstal Breakout” and “If the Kids are United”. The Sham Army had come across to Reading in force, all braces, No 2 cuts, and Doc Martins, and ready to take on those hippies. We were right at the front, although we soon moved to the side of the crowd when the fights started. A bunch of skins climbed on to the stage, and Pursey tried to call order, pleading with the crowd to stop fighting to no avail. He was in tears, watching bedlam and violence all around him, and not being able to do anything to stop it. But that was the nature of a Sham gig at the time. Jimmy even brought Steve Hillage on stage to show that it was ok to mix with hippies, but that just annoyed the skins more. A nasty, frightening experience, which marred an excellent performance by Sham. The Jam were great, Weller the edgy young mod, getting himself into a strop at the poor sound quality, and trashing his gear. Punk really had arrived at Reading.
The Jam set included: Mr Clean ; Away From the Numbers; Don’t Tell Them You’re Sane; Tonight at Noon; David Watts; Down in the Tube Station at Midnight; “A” Bomb in Wardour Street; News of the World
Saturday line-up: Speedometors; The Business; Jenny Darren; Next; Gruppo Sportivo; Nutz; Greg Kihn Band; Lindisfarne; Spirit; The Motors; Status Quo.
Saturday was a little more straightforward rock. Lindisfarne had recently reunited and hit the charts with “Run For Home”. The Motors were OK (Airport!). Spirit were excellent, with great Hendrix-style guitar from Randy California. Status Quo played a solid respectable set, nothing earth shattering. I know quite a few people were disappointed with them that night, but I thought they were OK. “Dirty Water’ was to become a crowd singalong favourite.
Status Quo setlist: Caroline; Roll Over Lay Down; Backwater; Rockers Rollin; Is There A Better Way; You Don’t Own Me; Hold You Back; Rockin All Over The World; Dirty Water; 4500 Times; Big Fat Mama; Don’t Waste My Time; Roadhouse Blues; Rain; Down Down; Bye Bye Johnny.
Sunday line-up: After The Fire; Chelsea; Pacific Eardrum; Bethnal; Squeeze; John Otway; The Albion Band; Paul Inder; Ian Gillan Band; Tom Robinson Band; Foreigner; Patti Smith Group.
Memories: Paul Inder is Lemmy’s son and was 11 years old (!) at the time; what a great thing to do when you are 11 🙂 ; Bethnal were a good band, who had a manic violin player; Squeeze were fun; Otway was as crazy as ever (Really Free); Tom Robinson led a mass singalong of “Glad to be Gay”; and Foreigner went down well with the crowd. But the day belonged to Patti Smith who was amazing. I was a big fan and left my mates to push my way right to the front of the crowd for Patti’s set. She had the whole crowd with her as she tore into “Gloria”, “Because the Night” and great covers of the Byrds’ “So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star)” and the Who’s “My Generation”. Stunning. I saw her again at Newcastle City Hall two days later and she was equally as electric.
Patti Smith setlist: Rock n Roll Nigger; Privilege (Set Me Free); Redondo Beach; Free Money; Ghost Dance; It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World; So You Want to Be (A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star); Ask the Angels; 25th Floor; Because the Night; Gloria, You Light Up My Life; My Generation; Godspeed