Clare Grogan, Edinburgh Playhouse, 22 October 2017

Altered Images, The Christians, Midge Ure: Edinburgh Playhouse, 22 October 2017

When a bona fide legend tells you to do something, you do it. So when Midge Ure tweeted me and suggested I treat myself to tickets to his Edinburgh gig, I naturally obliged. And I got three artists for the price of one, with Clare Grogan’s Altered Images and The Christians joining Midge for a night of nostalgia.

Altered Images kicked things off with a bouncy, cheerful set. Absolute 80s listeners will be familiar with Clare’s new show, laden as it is with showbiz anecdotes, and seeing her live is pretty much the same experience. She confessed that she’d availed herself of Harvey Nicks’ finest snifters pre-show and was in a supremely chatty mood. “I don’t know why I say these things. It must be nerves,” said Clare after a bout of swearing, mildly embarrassing her guitarist, and rambling about how Dead Pop Stars was what John Lennon would have wanted. Her banter aside, the slot was solid, and aside from a few shaky vocal moments Clare was in fine fettle. Don’t Talk To Me About Love and the perennial favourite Happy Birthday were my personal standouts.

The Christians brought a pack of hardcore fans with them, dancing in the aisles to every hit. I confess I only knew Harvest For The World and Hooverville beforehand, but Garry Christian and Joey Ankrah’s soulful harmonies and boundless energy persuaded me to look up the back catalogue. Like Clare, Garry had partaken of the bar’s delights, and his tipsy patter about being underpaid and the half-empty Playhouse caused a few pursed lips among the (mostly elderly) crowd, but I thought it was most entertaining. My gig companion suggested the band might be more at home in a smaller, jazzier venue, and I had to agree. “If there’s any journalists in, just say this was great,” he said, finishing his wine and launching into Greenbank Drive, featuring a cheeky Papa Was A Rolling Stone cover. And you know what? It was great.

I more or less knew what to expect from Midge, having seen his top-notch set at Rewind. I wasn’t expecting him to pack in as many hits as he did, though. Kicking off with Yellow Pearl for the 1984 Top of the Pops viewers, he took in a comprehensive selection of hits, from early Ultravox (All Stood Still, Sleepwalk) to solo material and perennial favourite Fade To Grey by Visage. The audience were on their feet for the whole set – well, as much as they could be, given the average age and chorus of grumbling when told to stand up. Speaking of age, Midge is still looking and sounding great – his voice is just as strong, if not better, than his ’80s heyday. He came with Cole and Joseph from India Electric Co. in tow, two strapping young lads who didn’t let being born after Midge’s hits get in the way of some enthusiastic synth-mashing and a lovely Vienna violin solo. Rounding things off with a tremendous, roof-raising Love’s Great Adventure, Midge delivered exactly what the fans wanted.

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All in all, a trio I wouldn’t mind seeing again, regardless of how well-lubricated they are.

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