Review : Ultravox - Return to Eden
Popmatters“New Wave” is kind of a funny genre title, isn’t it? What exactly does it really say about the music it labels? Really, it only makes sense in rear view – it’s a fond antiquity of the late 70s, early 80s, where there seemed to be something “new” happening, a “wave” of bright, quirky effects pedals and glossy rhythm sections, a breath of fresh, romanticized air.
Ultravox were riding the crest of that wave, breaking through in the late 70s with their self-titled LP, which featured production help from Brian Eno. But it wasn’t until frontman John Foxx decided to go solo and they found a replacement in keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Midge Ure that the band steered full steam into more commercial waters, embracing the chilly synthesizers and drum programming that cemented the trademark Ultravox sound.
Although the band would continue to release music in various formations until 1994, the “classic” Ultravox line-up (Ure, drummer/vocalist Warren Cann, bassist/keyboardist Chris Cross, and keyboardist Billy Currie) would go on to release four albums together, beginning with 1980’s Vienna and ceasing with 1984’s Lament.
Return to Eden documents the live reunion of this most famous formation, capturing the band’s sold-out 2009 performance at the Roundhouse in London, which basically runs through their most famous tunes, almost exclusively favoring their slickest, shiniest material. Return delivers faithful, well-manicured versions that are virtually identical to their studio counterparts. Instead of injecting their old work with a sense of invigorated live urgency, Ultravox have somehow made their music even more tailored. The constant enthusiastic applause seems to suggest fans are simply happy to see they can still play their instruments....full text
MyreviewerJuly 13th 1985 was the last time that the classic and most successful line-up of Ultravox performed together. The band had built a successful career since 1980 with their synthesis of rock and electronics but cracks were beginning to appear. Midge Ure had co-written arguably the greatest charity track ever and also had aspirations for a solo career, releasing number one single If I Was and hit album The Gift later that year.
Reconvening in 1986, Ure had already been convinced that less was more and tried to persuade the band to ditch their masses of electronics for a more simple band approach. This led to a major falling out that eventually saw Currie and Cross siding with Ure and resident tech-head Warren Cann being unceremoniously ejected from the band. Cann teamed up with Hans Zimmer and antipodean Zaine Griff for the rather special Helden album Spies that is still unreleased despite the original recordings being remastered by Extreme Voice a few years ago.
Ultravox, on the other hand, brought in Big Country’s Mark Brzezicki on drums and released a rather lacklustre album that was officially titled U-Vox but is universally known to Ultravox fans as TDPT (the dreaded pink thing). The album was still a hit (I bought it…) and contained gems such as The Prize (I know I’m alone on this one…) and the orchestral-laden All In One Day, the latter inspired by Live Aid. Still, diminishing returns on single releases and a rather lacklustre tour saw the band call it a day....full text
CrackerjackUltravox one of primary exponents of the British electronic pop music movement of the 1980’s have announced plans for a tour of the UK in April 2009 after an absence of 20 years.The tour will feature Ultravox’s original 1980’s line.
Any insecurities about playing their first gigs since Live Aid in 1985 must have evaporated as soon as Ultravox saw the ‘sold out’ signs going up at each of the 15 venues on this reunion ‘greatest hits’ tour. Midge Ure and his band last played on a Bristol stage in May 1984, when they sold out the Hippodrome for three consecutive nights. At the time, they were at their peak and in the middle of a run of 17 hit singles in five years - this at a time when record sales were in the....full text
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