Midge Ure, lead singer of Ultravox and solo artist came to Austin for a solo acoustic show at 3Ten Austin City Limits Live in downtown Austin. The weather was great, not too much traffic and away I went to the show.
I did miss the opening act; Robert Harrison of Cotton Mather, but I was really excited to see Ure who I have been a fan of since the early ’80s. The venue is small, intimate and was perfect for this show. Dark atmosphere, cool air blowing on me from the air conditioning system and my growing excitement all made it thrilling and made the hair stand up on my arms when Ure came on stage. With a perfect amount of story-telling, jokes and some aw-shucks moments, Ure thrilled the crowd with songs from Ultravox and his solo career. as well as a beautiful rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Man Of The World.” Ure told the crowd about listening to the song on the radio when he was small back when the UK had one radio station and how much he loved this song. He asked for people to help him sing-along with “The Voice,” but said that if you didn’t know it, please don’t do it, which got a large laugh from the crowd. With his mix of songs, he wove a set of beauty and heartfelt singing that was a pleasure to witness. “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” actually had some tears in my eyes since the raw emotion that Ure gave to the performance was striking. It was actually supposed to be the last song, but he got caught up in it and admitted that he forgot to leave the stage. After a lot of laughter, we were treated to the final song, “One Small Day,” and a standing ovation later, it was sadly all over…except for the buying of the souvenir t-shirt of course.
Having never seen Ultravox live, nor been able to see any of Ure’s previous solo shows, this was a delight and is something that I will never forget. The perfect venue, perfect sound, and perfect performance…what more could you ask for?
This was the second album by British pop group Ultravox, at that time known as “Ultravox!” with an exclamation mark, as a nod to Neu!. Although the group would later achieve fame and commercial success with lead singer Midge Ure the band was, in 1977, led by singer/songwriter John Foxx who was accompanied by guitarist Stevie Shears, drummer Warren Cann, bassist Chris Cross and keyboard/violinist Billy Currie. Ha!-Ha!-Ha! was released on 14 October 1977, and was accompanied by lead single “ROckwrok.”
This is the remastered release from Culture Factory and has six bonus tracks as well as clear, crisp sound and a replica cardboard jacket, just like it did when it was on vinyl.
The album sounds great with the beautiful remastering and you get to hear the band still in the punk style that they had before Midge Ure came in as lead singer and they became slicker and more polished. The songs are played with gust and you can hear the excitement and the experimental nature of the band, especially on “Distant Smile.” It has the atmospherics that they became known for and then blasts in a blistering track. The mix of the hard-edged punk, and the slicker new wave mix perfectly on the album with neither overpowering the other, but complimenting each other. The tide was changing in the band as well as on the charts and this still sounds amazing today. This is a collection of songs that grab you right from the start and keep a hold of you right until the end of the album. The bonus songs are a great treat too, something that makes for a longer and interesting album.
If you are a fan of later era Ultravox, you need to hear how they started out and don’t compare them, just enjoy them as almost two separate bands linked together.