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'80s Icons Take Over The Music Box


June 23rd, 2018

The 1980s produced a trove of unforgettable music and, with it, a litany of artists that reside in our memories and, on occasion, an appearance right here on the North Coast.

Midge Ure, of Ultravox and the second British Invasion, isn't well known to many folks outside his circle.  However, he's the co-writer of the second-best selling single in British history.  The phenomenon known as "Band Aid" started with a tune that he and Sir Bob Geldof wrote together, "Do They Know It's Christmas?", a charity tune that was written to help the  starving peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, American artists couldn't sit still and let their brethren across the pond get away with all the accolades, so the "USA For Africa" initiative was founded, culminating in the star-popped "We Are The World" single.  

Perhaps the single-greatest use of star power ever assembled, a massive concert would play on both sides of the Atlantic (Phil Collins even took the Concorde across the ocean to play at both of the shows!) in London and then Philadelphia in July of 1985. 

Most of this was the brainchild of Ure.  A musician since the 1960s and the frontman of Ultravox, he's a player that's flown under the radar for decades.  His devoted fans came out to the Music Box Supper Club the other night to see him play.

Taking the stage with a three-piece backing band, the diminutive guitarist thanked the crowd for coming out.  He then took the large-ish audience on a three decade journey through his career. A member of Ireland's Thin Lizzy for a spell back in the late '70s, Ure stepped away from them to rejoin his original band, Ultravox.  Playing a few tunes from that era really got the fans on their feet.  As he played his guitar, Ure would throw his head back like a wolf baying at the moon, a signature move that has really defined the Scot for almost four decades. Zooming through the Ultravox hit list, he opened the show with "Passing Strangers" and then offered such well-known tunes as "Vienna," "All Stood Still," "I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)," and closing with "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes."  The assembled crowd of Ultravox's faithfuls seemed happy with this collection of tunes; Ure peppered the set with other songs from his career such as "Fragile," "If I Was" and "Dear God."

After a very brief break, blue-eyed soulster Paul Young took the stage. His four-piece band backed him up for an eleven song, sixty-minute set. Best known as a soul singer along the lines of Daryl Hall and Michael Bolton, he's best remembered for a cover of Hall & Oate's "Everytime You Go Away" from the mid 1980s.  Young hasn't toured the U.S. much over the last few decades.  He was a featured act during last summer's Retro Futura tour, which was the first time he played the Cleveland area in about twenty-five years.  Standing well over six feet tall, the amiable Brit had a great rapport with the crowd.  Unfortunately, his voice wasn't what it once was.  On a few occasions, he had a difficult time with the high notes.  He gave it a hundred percent, and that made up for some of the shortcomings of his vocals.  

At the end of the show, Ure came back out for a phenomenal rendition of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town."  The jam-style version of the song saw Ure on lead vocals with Young doing  a great job on backing vocals.  The band, primarily a group of youngsters, knocked it out of the park.

Review and Photos by Brian M. Lumley


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