Review: Ultravox, Royal Concert Hall, by Sean Kirby
AT their 1980s peak electro-pop's Ultravox specialised in soulful, lyrically complex songs that stuck in your head for days.
Existential angst and nuclear war were fairly typical subjects. These were often accompanied by artily shot videos featuring frontman Midge Ure lurking moodily in the shadows, pencil thin moustache carefully oiled. There was a lot of that about then. If I'd been a New Romantic pop icon I'd never have travelled without a torch.
After a well received 2009 reunion tour, in May Ultravox's best known line-up released their first studio album in 28 years, bravely entitled Brilliant – although the critical reception to it has largely been more along the lines of Quite Good – backed by the current UK and European tour.
Midge took to the Royal Concert Hall's stage suited and booted (a tie clip and button down shirt even), looking like a top flight football manager, and the gig itself was very much one of two halves.
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The Scot's voice has lost little of its power and range but for the first half-hour the band seemed to be having difficulty reaching its audience, despite the presence of obviously long time fans, going by the T-shirts. Some fluctuations in sound levels before the intermission can't have helped matters.
Then, ironically with renditions including Sleepwalk (from 1980's Vienna album), things definitely began to wake up.
There followed stand out versions of old favourites The Thin Wall, Vienna, I Remember (Death in the Afternoon) and Love's Great Adventure; with Rise the pick of the crop from the current Brilliant album and a potential anthem to finish on, should future tours beckon.
Hope they do but please, Midge, lose the suit.