Review: Ultravox, Hammersmith Odeo..er..Apollo, 24th April, 2009

Viewers who are aware of my peccadillos will be aware that I have a certain….um…passion about the music of Ultravox. So this review isn’t really going to be that critical, lol..Anyway, its more of a ‘what I did on my day in That London.’ sort of thingy.

So, for those that don’t know, a little bit of history. Ultravox started waaaaaaaayyyyy back in the early to mid 70’s and went through a few name changes until they settled on Ultravox.  They had a deal with Island records and came up with three albums..then the deal ran out. The singer, John Foxx left the group, as did the guitarist. So the three remaining members, Warren Cann, Billy Currie and Chris Cross went on the hunt for a new lead man. It was suggested to them that they might like to get Midge Ure involved.. They then went ahead and became incredibly succesful, being one of the most influential bands of the eighties. Their track, Vienna, is considered by many to be the definative track and sound of the eighties.

In November 1988  the band split as they’d slowely drifted apart.

And I never go tto see them in concert. Oh, I’d seen the Monument video, yes, and seen their stint at Live Aid, but that was it. Ever since I discovered the band in 83 – yeah, I came late to the party, blame my mother – something about the sheer power and poetry of their music appealed to me. It wasn’t just hard edged pop or rock with synthesisers. There was a classical element to it which struck a chord with me – no pun intended.

Over the years I’ve been to Midge Ure solo concerts, but, well, no offence to Midge, it just wasn’t the same – and rightly so. Midge solo is a very different sound to Ultravox and damn good in it’s own right.

However, Ultravox reformed. The 4 members from the eighties’ line up got back together and have been playing a string of dates across the UK. And last night they camed to Hammersmith, to what many have called the band’s spiritual home, the Hammersmith Odeon – or HMV Apollo as it’s now called – blech.

I’ve never been to a ‘proper’ gig as such before and the fact it was Ultravox had me bouncing off the walls for a few days beforehand. Jo and I met in Victoria and tubed it to Hammersmith. Jo needed to collect her ticket and when she did found a lovely little surprise – vip passes that would allow us to the vip lounge and the after show party. Both of us, truth be told, were a little..hmm…surrealed out just by the fact we were seeing the band – seeing their name on the front of the venue was a warming, if odd moment. Anyway, not managing to get tickets to the pre-gig ‘Voxgate’ meant we had to pop to a local boozer – and my Bod, we actually discovered decent pub grub! It actually exists!

After a couple of rums and the grub, we popped back to the venue to find the street outside packed with people. The band had sold out Hammersmith. We eventually got in and bravely fought our way to the merchandise fortress. Then we dug out a couple of certain passes and popped up to the completly empty vip lounge, LOL. To be honest, it was just what I needed – some time away from a large mass of people, as my brain was edging towards ‘panic-mode’. That and my legs were a lil wonky and so the provision of the Sofa of Extreme Comfort in the vip lounge was a blessing, lol.

We missed the support – apologies for that, but took our seats – which were rather good uns – in anticipation. The stage darkened…

And the ‘tinks’ began.


What a great way to open a show, a huge wall of sound blasting out a wonderful instrumental track that every fan knew. My face started to break into what can only be described as a dazed smile. A quick look at Jo had me realising that any hope for an inteligent response off her would have to wait for a couple of days. The crowd had got to it’s feet, everyone at a sold out Hammersmith just eagerly awaiting the time of their lives.

Billy Currie

Billy Currie

The crowd cheered when Billy popped forward with his fiddle  – a long held iconic moment for the band. After that, We Stand Alone and, alas, despite UN Resolutions to the contrary, I started to sing.

I can only apologise.


Billy, Midge and Warren

Billy, Midge and Warren



I’m not going to go into it track by track, there would be no point. Nearly all the hits were there – I may be wrong but I think only We Came To Dance and Love’s Great Adventure were missing. They played nearly all the Rage In Eden stuff, nearly all the Vienna stuff – including some choices that some have found surprising – Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again) being one of them – with a wonderful swinging lightbulb on the screens behind the band.

Cloistered Shadow.... :P

Cloistered Shadow.... 😛

Midge Ure

Midge Ure

Warren got to do his Mr. X vocals, proving he still has one of the deepest voices in music, lol. The audience was incredibly lively and totally into it, each track being greeted with a roar, and finished with huge applause. The band themselves looked like they were having a whale of a time, smiling, beaming even..  Midge’s voice was probably the strongest Ive heard it live. Yeah, there were a couple of little hitches – soemthing happened with The Thin Wall and during the encore of Sleepwalk Billy’s Mac decided to conk out, meaning no solo from him.

Billy Currie with orgasm face, lol

Warren Cann to the left and Billy Currie with orgasm face, lol

Chris Cross (no, really...)

Chris Cross (no, really...)

The crowd sang along happily – it was a joyous event – blasting out One Small Day and Hymn. Then the final song; The Voice, long a favourite of fans at Ultravox concerts. Tbh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard three drums being snuck onto front of stage greeted by such a huge roar from the audience. You see, the band finish The Voice by beating the living daylights out of the drums – its a show stopper. They didn’t let us down.

THE Voice

THE Voice

Midge Ure

Midge Ure

billy avec violin

billy avec violin

And so the show finished. Time had flown by – to be honest it felt dreamlike – I’m still wondering if it actually happened, lol. Being in that audience felt almost like being in a huge congregation of a gospel church. I had a simpley wonderful time, fulfilling a teenage ambition.



Buggered if I know what I’m going to do now, lol.

10 Responses to “Review: Ultravox, Hammersmith Odeo..er..Apollo, 24th April, 2009”

  1. 1 White China
    April 26, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Oh My God! I could have written this! Apart from the VIP lounge and the tube journey EVERYTHING you wrote is my life with Ultravox and Hammersmith experience in detail!!!!!!!!!!!!!We have led parallel lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Bloody freaky………………..

  2. 2 Underpass
    April 27, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    What’s you opinion of John Foxx?
    I love his track Underpass.

  3. 3 Ben
    April 27, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    You… sang… ???

    OMG… I feel sorry for Jo… And everyone else who might have heard that…

    That must have been, so… so…
    Words cannot describe what that must have been like…

    Good thing you had a nice time tho 😛

  4. 4 macfadyan
    April 27, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Im truly surprised that ben didn’t post a reply to white china expressing sympathy for him having a similar life to me, lol. As for Foxxy, what a fascinating musician…one never quite knows what to expect, tbh 🙂

  5. April 28, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Great review & pics! Wish I could have been there.

    New Wave Diva

  6. 6 luis dector
    July 1, 2009 at 2:27 am

    All the way from Mexico to the UK, for that show… totally awesome!

    I’m still dreaming with the show!


  7. August 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I have to say, I think I must have attended a different gig! I found the timing on most of the songs to be hit and miss (particularly between Warren Cann and Chris Cross – ie the rhythm section!), and the synth emulation software they were using kept throwing out the strangest sounds. The mix was all over the shop as well, and when Billy’s software crashed on Sleepwalk I was gutted. It seemed like they were under-rehearsed, and with no support act (who preferred to play the Camden Crawl instead!) I felt like we’d been ripped off. Visions in Blue, another long-time favourite of mine, was also strangely anti-climactic. There were highlights; Midge has never been acclaimed as a live vocalist (I remember seeing them on the Monument tour in ’84 and it was a bit dodgy then), but he put in a good vocal performance on the night. The highlight for me was Your Name (Has Slipped My Mind Again), which I realise is a bit left-field, but it sent a shiver down my spine. It’s unfortunate that there were far more moments that made me cringe.

  8. 8 ota
    November 25, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I’m from Croatia so don’t look on my English, it is not good but I think you’ll understand me. Just now I am listening Ultravox, Visions in Blue in this very moment and Midges voice is hypnotic to me.
    I know every word, every tone of many UVox songs and I adore to sing with Midge.

    In the April next year, I would go in Germany on Return to Eden and I can hardly wait.

    So, I want you to know that this you wrote has a very special meaning for me because I also want to fulfill my dream and see them on stage in any case at least once in my lifetime.I was too young in 80’s for this but now… THEY ARE MINE!

    Love you from Zagreb, Croatia!!!


  9. 9 oldtimefan
    April 19, 2010 at 10:34 am

    saw them yesterday in offenbach germany – great great concert !!!

  10. 10 DutchVox
    April 29, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Saw them in Hamburg last Friday and in Amsterdam on Monday. I still have to come down from my cloud….

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