Another act hitting the reunion gravy train - this time it's Ultravox, post-punk art types turned New Romantic electropop pioneers in the early 80's, and hosts of a very early gig in 1986, an astonishing performance on their last go-round, over 22 years ago. Would they - and their very era-specific music - stand the test of time?
Either way, I was all over this one, booking tix in November, 5 minutes after they went on sale, so was perturbed that they only arrived 2 days before the gig! Even more perturbed to find the "unreserved standing" tix I'd ordered had somehow morphed into stalls seats! Bah!
Anyway, I picked up some fellow 80's casualties and hit the road, parking up in Trenchard as usual and hitting the bar, completely ignoring the support act and heading into the hall just before the 5 minute warning at 8.30. First off - no standing area at all! Ticket sales must've been slow. Secondly, we're in the rear stalls? How the fuck did that happen? I ordered these tix 5 minutes after they went on sale, fuck you very much. Why are we so far back and when did this lot in front of us order their goddamn tickets??
However, I had little time to articulate my indignation before the lights dimmed and four shadowy figures took the stage, building into a synthy moody intro. "Passing Strangers", the bouncy single from the first Ure album "Vienna" was next up, but that was all worthy of note for the first 45 or so minutes, as the Vox delved into the more moody, morose side of their canon, which was often dirge-like and frankly bored me rigid. A stunning "Lament" offered better things, after which Midge - on one of only 2 addresses to the crowd all evening - asked whether we had permission to dance! Well, sure the bouncers were stopping people from taking pix on their phones or going to the front, but half the fault lay with the Vox for playing such a tedious set thus far!
Anyway, we were all up for the subsequent "One Small Day", my favourite Ure-travox number, a rocking 80's anthem, and suddenly - finally! - the gig took on a different complexion. The crowd were engaged, up and dancing, the band looked interested rather than dialling in the music from their laptops, and we were away. "All Stood Still", a soaring "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" and set closer, the epic "Hymn" kept the momentum, before "Sleepwalk" and "The Voice" sent us home happy after a definite set of two halves, part dull bookish sub-Krautrock boredom, part electropop party.