Time Out Dubai chats to Midge Ure ahead of his Dubai show at the Irish Village on Thursday
Scottish singer-songwriter Midge Ure, 61, performed with his band Ultravox in the 80s where he had success with hits such as Vienna and If I Was. Ure co-wrote the charity pop song 'Do they Know It’s Christmas?' with Bob Geldof, and the song is still one of the highest selling singles in UK chart history, we caught with him ahead of his gig at The Irish Village.
Are you looking forward to coming back to Dubai? Yeah, I was there about 10 years ago, and it was totally acoustic what I did before on a rooftop somewhere outside, and with an acoustic guitar playing outdoors in that humidity is not a great idea. The strings all die after about two songs. This time around it's full electric band, so I’m really looking to it. I know Bob Geldof has played there a few times, and he was telling me that it’s a good place. Who was the first person to call you Midge? How did the nickname come about? Like most nicknames – you don’t ask for them, they’re thrust upon you. When I joined my first full time band at 18, my name is James or Jim, and I joined the band which was already established in Glasgow, and it was run by two brothers. One of them was named Jim, he was older and supposedly wiser, and he said ‘well we can’t have two Jims in the band so you can be Mij’ - which is Jim backwards, I changed the spelling and that was it! Do you ever get fed up of singing 'Vienna'? I might do if people didn’t react to it, and they kind of yawned, but the response it gets. If I ever do get a bit jaded, I rearrange it. When I do the song in Dubai there will be a guitar solo in the middle. Do you think you could do a song about Dubai? You wouldn’t believe the amount of people, after Vienna was successful and Ultravox was touring around Europe, every city we went to the head of the record company would come and see you – and they’d say ‘Tokyo’s a good title for a song’ or ‘have you thought about doing a song about Paris’ – I was like hold on, I’m not a travelogue, it was a one-off! It was about the heart of the city what the city stood for. So no, I’m not planning on writing anymore geographical songs.
'Do they know it’s Christmas?' is still one of the biggest pop songs ever – when you penned it did you ever think it would be so popular? No! When Bob [Geldof] and I put the song together, we thought it was an adequate song, it was OK, but what made it special is what happened to it. All those contemporaries coming in and adding their talent to it, tuning it from a fairly average song into something quite special. There was a moment though, when I realised that this was going to be huge. It was when I’d just spent 24 hours in the recording studio with all the artists – all the bits that you see on TV many times - and I was driving home back to the outskirts of London and Bob had taken a cassette of the recording to Radio One. As I’m driving home I heard Bob playing the cassette on national radio which was unheard of, and then the second it finished they rewound the cassette and played it again. And at that very moment I thought – this has gone through the roof.