Ultravox singer-guitarist Midge Ure says a presentation he gave to a group of students at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts inspired him to embark on 2014’s Fragile Troubadour Tour.
For that jaunt, he toured completely solo and even drove himself from city to city as he recorded the whole experience for a documentary released late last year.
“When I was talking, kids in the class were asking about multi-album record deals and world tours, and I realized that none of it makes any sense anymore because it only exists for a tiny minority of musicians,” says Ure, who performs at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Music Box Supper Club.
Both with Ultravox and as a solo artist, Ure has made moody synth pop music distinguished by his deep voice and a mix of organic and electronic instrumentation (think Depeche Mode meets Peter Gabriel). He achieved moderate success in the '80s and '90 but had never really taken the DIY approach that many bands today do.
“I wanted to know what I could do to show people how difficult it is to do that stuff," he says of the Fragile Troubadour Tour. "I settled at the end of the evening and sat with the promoter and went through the finances. All of a sudden, I was grown up. It’s stuff I never had to do before. It used to be that you went on tour and didn’t care how much it cost because you were selling albums. Touring was a promotional effort to sell the record. Now, you have to put on a record to go on tour. It’s crazy.”
For the current tour, Ure has teamed up with former Right the Stars drummer BC Taylor and L.A. based keyboard player Tony Solis. The trio will perform songs that Ure wrote with both Ultravox and Visage. The accompanying musicians provide Ure with the flexibility to dig deep into his back catalog.
“We’re doing the shows as a three-piece band,” says Ure. “BC Taylor and Tony are just incredibly versatile musicians and play all sorts of things. Between the three of us, we’re doing songs I haven’t played in the U.S. since the last tour with Ultravox in 1984. We’re jumping from guitar to synths and back, and it’s sounding great. It’s a real challenge for me to do that. It’s rattled my cage. I’ve had to think about what I can perform. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.”