Midge Ure, The Christians & Altered Images – Live Review – Halifax Victoria Theatre
By @Steve Crabtree, November 2017
Tonight in Halifax, the order of the day is a good old bit of 1980s music at the Victoria Theatre. It’s a place that’s had it’s fair share of retro artists over the years… Go West, Tony Hadley, Nik Kershaw and Rick Astley to name a few. Tonight it’s a triple-bill of 80s nostalgia, with three artists, each from a different genre of music.
An exciting three hours of Altered Images, The Christians and Midge Ure are ahead of us.
It’s a 7.30pm start, and the excitement has been building. Altered Images are first on, and take to the stage with the poppy ‘I Could Be Happy’; and the audience seem pretty happy themselves at this start too.
Altered Images are still led by a now 55-year-old Clare Grogan. She looks great, and at least twenty years younger than her true age. She’s dancing, jumping, having fun and starting the party as she always did. What a way to start an 80s evening. She leads in to ‘Don’t Talk To Me About Love’, ‘Dead Popstars’ and, of course, ‘Happy Birthday’ – which has definitely got the crowd in the right mood.
Grogan can still sing and own a stage, and she’s great at talking to the audience… a bit too much for the drummers liking though – he keeps interrupting her mid-sentence to begin the next song. They’re on time-constraints tonight, you know!
As Grogan leaves the stage, The Christians take her place. The mid-to-late 80s group with the guy in the shades that sings the vocals (Garry Christian) are a group I remember at the time I’d begun to buy my own music, rather than just hear it on the radio, and see it on Top Of The Pops.
They are here to take the party mood tracks in to a more upbeat-soul direction, and when ‘Forgotten World’ kicks off their set, we’re immersed in a bit of quality. Garry’s voice is something else, and flanked by his band and backing vocalists they’re delivering something that makes you go “wow”.
‘Born Again’ and ‘Hooverville’ go down well with the nicely busy Halifax crowd, and so does the dry and cheeky humour that Garry Christian is giving out between the tunes. ‘Ideal World’ has everyone singing along, before they end their 40 minute set with ‘Harvest For The World’ – and by now the whole place is on its feet dancing and joining in. It doesn’t look like it’s just me who’s been blown away by these guys.
As well as retro artists, The Victoria Theatre in Halifax has had quite a few other big musical names over the years. Shed Seven, Paul Weller, Morrissey… The Jackson 5 even played here in 1979! Expand the bar and refreshments area, and it’s a perfectly sized venue to cater for more of music’s popular names. They really should bring a few big names back in. It’s a nice place on the eye too.
After an interval of about 20 minutes, we’re back in our seats and a Midge Ure promo video greets us to plug a new orchestral album. The real brains behind Band Aid and Live Aid, Ure was famous for his stint as lead singer with Ultravox, as well as being a great solo performer in his own right.
And it seems that Ure is the star attraction, rather than a third of a triple-bill. We’ve got a lot of hardcore fans in, and the entrance that accompanies his walk on to the stage is befitting of a headline act. The production has gone up a notch too.
He’s certainly the performer as ‘Yellow Pearl’ starts things off, and four songs in he pleases me with ‘If I Was’. I think Midge is a great recording artist, and on stage he brings a somewhat operatic vocal with him. It gives a different edge to his tunes.
‘I Remember (Death In The Afternoon)’ gets a good airing, and ‘Fade To Grey’, ‘Vienna’ and ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ are generously sprinkled in to a selection of his old and new stuff. ‘Sleepwalk’ and ‘Passing Strangers’ seem to strike a chord with Ure’s more hardcore fans.
I must say, I’d seen Midge Ure and Altered Images a couple of times before and enjoyed them, and although I was looking forward to seeing The Christians, I can safely say that they’ve been the act of the evening for me. The performance from each member of the band was great, Garry C can certainly sing and belt out a soothing and soulful number, and he’s got a charismatic persona that you really take to. The show-stealer for me.
A fab evening in my hometown; and a download of The Christians’ greatest hits is definitely on the cards in the morning.