Ultravox, Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh, Scotland, April 10, 2009

By: Fredrik "Schlatta" Svensson

Last year the unexpected happened: first Yazoo’s "Reconnected Tour" and then "Steel City Tour" featuring The Human League, ABC and Heaven 17 and to top it off; Ultravox announced their return to the stage.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the creation of the monster hit “Vienna” inspired the band to reform for a number of live performances. EMI annonced plans to reissue the back catalogue of Ultravox and this led to the question if they also should take the opportunity to perform live.

Incredible enough they decided to return to the stage for the first time since "Live Aid" in 1985. The lineup is the same as spawned the albums, “Vienna”, “Rage in Eden”, “Quartet” and “Lament”, i e Midge Ure (vocals, keyboards and guitar), Chris Cross (bass, keyboards and backing vocals), Billie Currie (keyboards, violin) and Warren Cann (drums, pads and backing vocals).

The first show of the tour, aptly named “Return to Eden”, was at Edinburgh Playhouse on April 10, 2009, and I had the good fortune of receiving a photo pass. Edinburgh Playhouse is an old theatre in the centre of Edinburgh and has a capacity of around 3 000 people - it was almost sold out.

Eagerly awaiting the start of the concert I had the opportunity of talking to Cerise, moderator of the forum at www.ultravox.org.uk, the official Ultravox website. She told me some stories about people travelling from New Zealand to see the first show, and all of a sudden my flight from Gothenburg did not seem so extreme.

Then it was showtime, the hall was filled with smoke and the lads entered the stage to the intro of “Astradyne”. There was no front light, just smoke and silhuettes for this song. The stage design was rather simple but very esthetically pleasing: Ure in the middle, Cross stage right, Currie stage left and Cann towering behind Ure on the drums. They all looked rather old, and rightfully so, but they did sound like they still were in their teens.

It seems that LED-panels are the way to go nowadays and the stage design of Ultravox was no exception. Five rectangular panels were used in some of the songs, for example they were lit with a bright blue colour during “Visions in Blue” and showed a large X in “Mr X”.  I will not reveal the entire set list but if you are going to one of the remaining concerts you are in for a treat: 90 minutes of bliss. If you're not going, you can watch the DVD which will be based upon one of the London shows.


We were served all the hits like “Passing Stranger”, “All Stood Still”, “Vienna”, “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”, “Sleepwalk” and “The Voice”, but also some unexpected songs. All songs I hoped for were played, with the exception of “White China”. I felt that the month spent rehearsing the songs was well spent. Much, if not all, except for some synth bass lines, was played live and yes, they did do some mistakes but overall it felt really tight. Midge’s voice was perfect and powerful and it was only during the last couple of songs his vocal power diminished somewhat. The inbetween talk was kept at a minimum and the finale with Ure, Cross and Currie at the front of the stage playing snare drums was truly fantastic. If this is what a “Return to Eden” is like, I would not mind going there anytime.