Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Monday, May 04, 2009

Ultravox Belfast 2009

I last saw Ultravox in Belfast way back in 1983 on the 'Quartet' tour. Twenty six years and much hair loss later, they returned, this time to the cosy surroundings of the showpiece Waterfront Hall.

Support act was basically some bloke with a guitar. He did a nice rendition of the Beatles 'Something in the way she moves' -- other than that the only memorable moment was when he thanked the hard-working crew and my friend John commented -- 'Yeah tough job -- there you go mate there's your guitar.'

About 9pm the lights went down and the great men strolled on stage in semi-darkness to wild applause. They launched straight into 'Astradyne', the sprawling instrumental opener to 'Vienna' and it immediately became clear that the band were as technically flawless as ever.
Image-wise, the appearance was let's face it, of four besuited bank managers on keyboards, drums and bass but damn were they good. Billy Currie wasted no time demonstrating his proficiency on the electric viola and Chris Cross, despite a tendency to apparently engage in pocket billiards for much of the set, played a mean bass when required.

So it was straight into the first vocal number -- a blistering rendition of the criminally under-rated 'Passing Strangers.' Bizarrely the weakest link appeared to be Midge himself -- he missed several cues and his vocal frequently seemed (to these ears at least) a little 'off' at times. Perhaps the tightness and consummate perfection of the band showed him up a little.
But that was a minor gripe as not only hit after hit but one classic album track after another flooded the auditorium.
I'm a huge fan of the 'Rage In Eden' album and not only did the two singles appear, but also the incredible 'We Stand Alone', the even more incredible 'Death In The Afternoon', the title track and 'Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again)' which dovetailed beautifully into 'Vienna.'

Midge encouraged everyone to get up and dance on 'One Small Day' -- many obliged, but everyone was on their feet for 'Dancing With Tears in my Eyes'. To be honest I didn't have a choice as a woman with a butt the size of Belfast stood up in front of me and created a total eclipse of the stage.

A rock heavy 'Hymn', a dark version of 'Mr.X' complete with creepy backdrop and a manic 'All Stood Still' were amongst the highlights.

The woeful 'U-Vox' album was thankfully ignored, but I did miss a couple of hits -- 'We Came To Dance' and 'Love's Great Adventure.'

Encores were 'Sleepwalk' and of course 'The Voice' which saw a thrilling reprise of the frantic drumming featured on the 'Monument' video from way back when.

SO good to see the fab four back together -- I really hope they stay together this time and if you get a chance to see them live, just go and tell them David sent you.

Set List:

Passing Strangers
We Stand Alone
Visions In Blue
The Thin Wall
Mr X
Reap The Wild Wind
Death in the Afternoon
Rage in Eden
All Stood Still
Your Name Has Slipped my Mind Again
One Small Day
Dancing With Tears in my Eyes
Sleepwalk (Encore)
The Voice (Encore)


michael said...

You left out "Reap The Wild Wind" as well.

For me, the only track Midge disappointed on, as did the song itself, was "Vienna". Midge's rendition bordered on "cabaret" and the song was missing something - not just half of Billy's VIOLA (not violin) solo. And he missed ONE cue in Passing Strangers (as did Chris).

I saw Ultravox at the Maysfield LC in 1983 and was delighted when I heard they were returning to Belfast, some 26 years too late in my opinion, and on my 45th birthday as well!

The gifg was excellent, and the drumming at the end of The Voice brought back many happy memories of that night 26 years ago.

There's not many "nostalgia" bands I would pay good money to see, but definitely Ultravox, along with Simple Minds, will be on the "YES" list in future.

David said...

Thanks for the corrections Michael -- much appreciated.
We've already got tickets to see Simple Minds/OMD in the Odyssey on December 10th. Great to see all these bands coming back as strong as ever.