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Midge Ure plays at Shank Hall as part of his first U.S. tour in more than a decade.

Ure makes a long overdue return to Milwaukee

Some of us are (ouch) old enough to remember when Midge Ure was a member of the boy band Slik and then The Rich Kids with former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock. Or his successful Visage project with Steve Strange and Rusty Egan. Or when he briefly joined Thin Lizzy on tour. Or when he became the frontman of the already established Ultravox in 1979.

But, let's face it, the one thing I can say about Midge Ure that I'm certain you'll know is that he co-wrote and produced "Do They Know It's Christmas" and launched the Band Aid Trust with Bob Geldof, despite the fact that the latter tends to get all the credit.

Since the mid-1980s Ure has also released more than a half dozen solo records. And there was that Ultravox reunion a few years back, too. His autobiography, "If I Was," is due out this year.

So, you see, Midge Ure has never been one to sit around doing nothing. Yet it's been 12 years since he most recent U.S. tour.

Now, Ure is back on the road for a full-band tour that brings him to Milwaukee's Shank Hall on Friday, Jan. 18. Right the Stars will open the show and also will back Ure during his set. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $26.

As Ure prepared to leave for the tour, which begins with a one-off acoustic show on Jan. 8 in Oyster Bay, N.Y., we had the chance to exchange emails with him to talk about the tour and more. Welcome back, Midge, why has it been so long since you last toured the States?

Midge Ure: Its been 10 years since I last toured, but that was acoustic. This time its a full band with a view to paving the way for an Ultravox tour later.

Although I have had a couple of top 10 alternative tracks work for me in the U.S. success on a grand scale has always avoided me. That doesn't instill a lot of confidence in promoters really.

OMC: And is it true that this is the first tour with a full band since 1985? Have you preferred a more intimate setting across those years or has that been more an economic reality of leading a band in the past few decades?

MU: Its a bit of both. Playing in an acoustic form is much more intimate and human, which is a good thing after Ultravox, and I really do enjoy it so maybe the next US tour will take that form. This is a full band tour where I get to play my electric guitar which always puts a smile on my face.

OMC: What can fans expect at the Shank Hall show; will you do a mix of solo material and Ultravox tunes?

MU: The show will consist of a fair balance of solo and Ultravox songs and maybe a Visage tune. I think its important to make the set as interesting as possible so playing recognisable stuff balanced with the more "interesting" songs I don't play very often is the way to go this time.

OMC: Speaking of Ultravox; what's the status of Ultravox? I know there was a recent record, but is the band back for good or is it now more an on-again/off-again situation?

MU: We got together three years ago to celebrate 30 years since writing "Vienna." Just that, with no intention of anything else. Of course this led to doing a European tour and the obligatory album "Brilliant."

The way we have left it is the way it should be. The door is open now and if something interesting comes along we can fire up the band and do it. We like the idea it could be anything, a film soundtrack, music for theater, etc.

OMC: Did Steve offer you a chance to be a part of the Visage II thing? Tell us a bit about that, if you will.

MU: Visage was always something Rusty Egan and I created and controlled. The idea of doing a Visage 2 was never appealing to me so I wasn't interested. I walked away from Visage when it got ridiculous and supremely hedonistic and I will probably leave it that way.

OMC: You have an impending autobiography due next year. What led you to put pen to paper?

MU: The was a television program which ran for 40 years in the U.K. called "This Is Your Life," where you are surprised by a camera crew and subjected to hearing friends and family tell stories about you to the nation. After this was shown I was approached by various publishers to write my life story. I have recently added to it to bring it up date. It will be available as an ebook in the next couple of weeks.

OMC: Finally, I'm not sure if Ultravox or Visage of you as a solo artist – or even with Thin Lizzy – ever played in Milwaukee. Do you recall?

MU: I seem to remember Ultravox played there on the first U.S. tour I did with them – 1980? Because the (Glenn Sutton) song "What Made Milwaukee Famous (Made A Loser Out of Me)" was running round our heads at the time. Then we found out that beer was the thing which made it famous!

(Note: I've since confirmed that Ultravox played The Palms on Nov. 29, 1979 with Midge Ure.)


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