What’s on Manchester:
80’s Invasion Tour Tickets at the Opera House, Manchester
Monday 14th March 2016
Tickets from £33.65
The 80’s are back! Tony Denton Promotions bring together four of the decade’s most memorable artists to tour together for the first time ever. The 80’s Invasion tour features the cream of music from some of the most popular artists – Big Country, Midge Ure, Nick Heyward & Curiosity Killed The Cat, and will be touring throughout March 2016. The acts will perform their biggest hits – with record sales of over 20 million, 200 gold, platinum & silver discs and numerous awards between them this is THE 80’s show not to be missed! The tour takes in 15 dates starting at Southsea’s Kings Theatre on1st March and culminating at Edinburgh’s The Playhouse Theatre on 20th March.
Big Country was originally formed in 1981 by guitar playing founder members Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson both native of the band’s hometown Dunfermline in Scotland.
Initially driven by a shared vision of widescreen guitar melody, harmony and lyric, the classic Big Country sound was further enhanced later that summer by the arrival of drummer Mark Brzezicki and bass player Tony Butler. This is the Big Country that (with producer Steve Lillywhite), recorded the classic debut album ‘The Crossing’ in 1983.
The band broke massively worldwide with the release of the album’s classic singles ‘Fields Of Fire’, ‘Chance’ and signature song ‘In A Big Country’, which went on to become massive worldwide hits, selling over 2 million copies and driving ‘The Crossing’ to 3 prestigious Grammy nominations in the USA.
The run of success continued throughout the 1980′s with the release of the anthemic single ‘Wonderland’ and the second album ‘Steeltown’ (1984), which debuted at Number 1 in the UK and contained the hit singles ‘East Of Eden, ‘Just a Shadow’ and ‘Where The Rose Is Sown’ . In 1985, Big Country appeared at Live Aid in London followed by further successful album releases ‘The Seer’ (1986, which included the bands biggest UK hit ‘Look Away’, which also reached Number 1 in the Irish Singles chart) and ‘Peace In Our Time’ (1988), which saw the band playing the first ever privately promoted gig in Russia at the Moscow Sports Stadium.
At the start of the 90’s ‘Through A Big Country’, featuring all the bands classic hits was released, followed by the fifth studio album ‘No Place Like Home’ (1991) taking the band’s total record sales to well over five million copies.
Further studio albums Buffalo Skinners (1993) and ‘Why The Long Face (1995) followed, which saw Big Country landing the special guest slot on the Rolling Stones ‘Voodoo Lounge’ European tour and several shows in the UK and Ireland with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in 1995.
In August 1998 they were once again invited to open for the Rolling Stones on their ‘Bridges To Babylon” tour of Europe prompting Mick Jagger to say that Big Country were “one of the best opening bands we ever had”.
Two songs written at that time (‘Somebody Else’ and ‘Devil In The Eye’) were co-written with Ray Davies of The Kinks who invited the band to back him on the main stage at Glastonbury to perform a storming set in the rain.
By now singer Stuart Adamson had relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and so his fellow bandmates decamped to America to join him in writing and recording the album ‘Driving To Damascus’. It would be the last album they recorded together. With Stuart at the helm, Big Country, scored 17 top 30 UK singles achieving 5 gold and platinum status albums along the way. Stuart and Big Country would tour Europe one final time in 2000 and on the closing night at their beloved Barrowlands in Glasgow the band were fatefully joined on stage for one last song by Alarm singer Mike Peters and Bruce Watson’s son Jamie on guitar.
On December 16th 2001, Stuart Adamson took his own life in Honolulu, USA. He is survived by his children Callum and Kirsten. A celebration of Stuart’s life was held at Glasgow Barrowlands in May 2002 featuring the remaining members of Big Country with special guest vocalists including Mike Peters who would also sing with the band at a fan club convention in Zaandam, Holland.
The remaining three members had no real thoughts of performing as Big Country again. But, Tony Butler, Mark Brzezicki and Bruce Watson re-united in 2007 to celebrate the band’s Twenty-fifth anniversary. “It wasn’t a come-back… it was just the three of us having fun, as friends and as a band, and hoping to give the fans some enjoyment by playing our songs live, to celebrate 25 years” – Bruce Watson
In the summer of 2010, Bruce Watson finally picked up the phone and asked Mike Peters to do what he had previously been reluctant to do and sing with Big Country officially. In order to celebrate 30 years since the band was formed, Mike (a longstanding friend of Stuart’s who credits the words of ‘In A Big Country’ as literally inspiring him to ‘Stay Alive’ through two very public cancer battles), instinctively agreed and dates were booked. The first was fittingly in Glasgow, Scotland on New Years Eve 2010 and the second in the band’s hometown of Dunfermline. There was instant chemistry with the band also being joined by Bruce Watson’s son Jamie on guitar as Big Country again sought solace in the music and the freedom to express their love and admiration for their departed friend Stuart Adamson (who’s usual space at the centre of the stage was left symbolically vacant).
“When we are playing it is as if we never stopped, but I know we have, I know we suffered a great loss. But you heal . . . slowly. I can assure you that Stuart will be there with us every night, in our thoughts, in our words, and in our hearts. And now we find ourselves maybe not fully healed, but whole enough to hear the calling to continue this story. And time has made me realise that this story has always been about our fans, the love we have for our fans, and the love they have selflessly given us back.” – Bruce Watson
“When Bruce Watson called and asked me to sing for Big Country it was something I didn’t need to think twice about. It’s been an incredible honour getting to know the music of Big Country intimately and a pleasure to be around such great musicians and fans alike. I find singing the lyrics of Stuart Adamson very life affirming” – Mike Peters
Two years of intense and emotional shows followed with the ‘new’ Big Country fuelled by a renewed energy and once again revelling in the dreams and visions that had brought them together in the first place, finding instant and respectful acceptance by fans and critics alike. Since then, the band have performed at many of the UK and Europe’s most famous festivals, including Isle Of Wight (Twice), V Festival, T In The Park, Oxegen, Pink Pop and Cropredy creating a new generation of fans and renewing the passion for diehards with the introduction of new original songs such as ‘Another Country’ and ‘The Journey’ which encapsulate not only the sound but the heart and soul of Big Country past, present and future.
With the promise of a new era dawning for the band and the realisation that Big Country now have the platform to once again record and tour on a world wide scale, bassist Tony Butler has decided that his time in Big Country has come to a close and so he has retired gracefully from the stage. The band now welcomes Scott Whitley on bass.
In April 2013, Big Country released The Journey and toured across the globe in support of this highly acclaimed album throughout the year.
Coming into 2014, new challenges arose for Big Country. With Mike Peters dedicating his efforts full-time towards the support of the 30th Anniversary of The Alarm’s Declaration, Big Country have been joined by Simon Hough to perform vocal duties. He has fit in perfectly as the band continues its touring throughout the year that Big Country celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the release of the album, ‘Steeltown’. 2015 sees a massive Best Of (and more) tour of the UK and Europe, during which, Scott Whitley joined the band on bass, following Derek’s departure after 3 years. With 2016 comes the 30th Anniversary of ‘The Seer’ with the album being performed in its entirety on tour.
Born to a working-class family in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, Scotland, he attended Cambuslang Primary School and Rutherglen Academy in Glasgow until he was 15 years old. For the first 10 years of his life he lived in a one-bedroom tenement flat on the outskirts of Glasgow with his brother, sister and his parents.
After leaving school Ure attended Motherwell Technical College and then began to work as an engineer, training at the National Engineering Laboratory, (NEL), in nearby East Kilbride. He started playing music in a Glasgow band called Stumble (c. 1969 – c. 1971) The band’s line-up included lead guitarist Alan Wright, Fraser Spiers on harmonica, Kenny Ireland on bass and Alec Baird on drums.
Salvation, Slik and PVC2
Ure joined Salvation as a guitarist in 1972. The band had been formed in Glasgow in June 1970 by the brothers Kevin (vocals) and Jim McGinlay (bass guitar). Jim McGinlay (born James McGinlay) decided to turn Ure’s name backwards to “Mij” (Midge) to avoid any confusion caused by two members of the band having the same first name. Ure has since presented himself in the music scene as Midge Ure. he band performed covers as house band in the Glasgow discothèque Clouds, the venue for major bands playing on tour in the city. The band also comprised Billy McIsaac on keyboards and Kenny Hyslop on drums.
In April 1974, Kevin McGinlay left to pursue a solo career, so Ure assumed vocals in addition to his guitar duties. In November 1974 the band changed their name to Slik, with Bay City Rollers writers Bill Martin and Phil Coulter providing songs. In 1975, Ure turned down an offer to be the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, stating that he felt at the time that Malcolm McLaren had “his priorities completely wrong!”, a position he later reversed.
Slik achieved a UK number one single in February 1976 with “Forever and Ever”. In early 1977, Jim McGinlay decided to quit the band, being replaced by Russell Webb. Slik terminated their contract with Martin and Coulter, believing that their boy-band image was hindering their chances of success during the rising punk rock scene. They changed their name to PVC2 and adopted a more punkish style. Ure’s only release with the band under this name was the “Put You in the Picture” single.
By October 1977, Ure had left PVC2 to join former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock in Rich Kids. Ure moved to London and soon found himself immersed in a scene he had previously only read about in the pages of the NME. Musical tensions within the band led to Ure’s departure. Having acquired a synthesiser, Ure, alongside band-mate Rusty Egan, wanted to integrate the new instrument into the band’s sound. With Glen Matlock and Steve New preferring to remain with the traditional guitars and drums approach, the band split.
In January 2010, Rich Kids reformed for one night only, for a benefit concert for Steve New who was fighting terminal cancer (and died on 24 May 2010). Although it had been over 30 years since they played together, the press reports praised the gig, with energetic performances of “Ghosts of Princes in Towers” and “Hung on You”. Rich Kids were joined on stage by Mick Jones (The Clash) and Gary Kemp. Ure also played an acoustic set of Ultravox and Visage songs.
On February 2016, it was announced that Rich Kids will reform for a joint headline show with The Professionals at London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire for May 16.
In 1978, Egan and Ure formed Visage with lead vocalist Steve Strange, and utilised their new synthesiser when they recorded a cover of the Zager & Evans classic “In The Year 2525” for promotional purposes. The line-up was expanded in 1979 with the addition of Magazine members Dave Formula, John McGeoch and Barry Adamson, and Ultravox keyboardist Billy Currie, and the band signed briefly to Radar Records for the release of their first single “Tar”. Egan and Ure also formed the short-lived band The Misfits, whose career was curtailed by an approach from Thin Lizzy. Though Visage’s first single was unsuccessful, they signed with Polydor Records in 1980, and their second single, “Fade to Grey”, became a hit.
Ure already knew Thin Lizzy singer Phil Lynott, and in early 1979, Ure received co-writing credit for “Get Out of Here” on Thin Lizzy’s album Black Rose. In July 1979, Ure stepped in to help Thin Lizzy complete a US tour following guitarist Gary Moore’s abrupt departure. Ure also contributed guitar parts to “Things Ain’t Working Out” and “Dublin” for the 1979 Thin Lizzy remix compilation The Continuing Saga of the Ageing Orphans. Thin Lizzy then toured America and Japan. In 1980, during the second part of this tour, Ure switched to keyboards, and was replaced by Dave Flett and then Snowy White as guitarist. At the end of the tour Ure left Thin Lizzy and returned to his primary interest at that time, Ultravox. Ure continued to collaborate with Lynott, co-writing Lynott’s biggest solo hit, “Yellow Pearl”.
In 1979, Ure and Billy Currie formed a close bond playing together in Visage. The pair decided to resurrect Currie’s former group, the synthpop band Ultravox. The group had been presumed defunct since guitarist Robin Simon quit and lead singer John Foxx had left to pursue a solo career. In April 1979, Ure regrouped the band and assumed duties as bandleader, singer, songwriter, guitarist and second keyboardist. This now was the second incarnation of that band, and it would prove to become the “classic” line-up, with Currie (keyboards, violin), Chris Cross (bass) and Warren Cann (electronic drums). Although Ure had spent the latter half of 1979 on tour with Thin Lizzy, Ultravox found time late in the year to tour in the USA. During this time the band wrote a number of songs which were included on their first album with Ure.
The album, Vienna, was recorded in 1980. Although it was the band’s fourth album, it was the first of the “new” phase with Ure, and the first one to chart, although it was only a minor success upon immediate release. However, when the title track “Vienna” was released as a single in early 1981, it became a huge hit and spent four weeks at No. 2 in the UK singles chart and was the 5th highest selling single in the UK that year. The album itself re-entered the album chart and peaked at No. 3, proving itself one of New Wave’s, and New Romantic’s, best known examples.
Inspired by the 1949 film The Third Man, the promo video for “Vienna” was directed by Russell Mulcahy utilising cinematic techniques, and became quite influential. In an interview, Ure recalled the way that “music video changed after that. All these things that became video clichés – cropping the top and bottom off the screen, shooting on film as opposed to videotape, making it look like a movie … we were quite a groundbreaking act for a while.” The same year that Ultravox released the Vienna album, Visage also released their debut album which made the UK Top 20 and featured the hit single “Fade to Grey” (co-written by Ure and Currie with Chris Payne), also influential in the direction of the New Romantic electropop music scene. For a while between 1979 and 1980, then, Ure was deeply committed to three different bands, all of them quite successful: Ultravox, Visage, and Thin Lizzy.
In 1981, Ultravox recorded their second album with Ure as frontman, Rage in Eden, which was also a Top 5 hit in the UK. After its release, Ure and Currie reconvened with Visage to record the band’s second album, The Anvil. Released in early 1982, it was a Top 10 hit, but Ure left the band soon after its release, citing creative differences with frontman Steve Strange. The same year saw Ultravox record and release their third album with Ure, Quartet, with production by Beatles’ producer George Martin. The album became their third Top 10 hit and featured four Top 20 singles. This period also saw Ure work as a producer for other artists, amongst them Steve Harley, Skids and Strasse, and in 1982 he also released his first solo single, a cover of the 1968 Tom Rush song “No Regrets” (based on the 1975 hit cover version by The Walker Brothers), which made the UK Top 10.
After the live album Monument in 1983, Ultravox released their fourth studio album with Ure, Lament, in 1984. The album was another Top 10 success and contained the Top 3 hit “Dancing with Tears in My Eyes”. The band released their first “greatest hits” album at the end of the year, featuring all the singles from 1980 onwards. The album peaked at no.2 in the UK and was later certified triple platinum.
After Ure’s successful debut solo album in 1985, the fifth and final Ultravox album with Ure, U-Vox, was released in 1986. Although another Top 10 hit, the album (and singles) fared less well than their earlier releases.
In 2004, he collabored with the electro-trance band “Jam & Spoon” on the title “Something To Remind Me”, song featured on their “Tripomatic Fairytales 3003” LP
In 2009, Ure and the other members reformed Ultravox for the Return to Eden tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Vienna album, followed up the next year with a second round of the tour. In late 2010 Ultravox started working on their sixth album fronted by Ure. This album, entitled Brilliant was released in May 2012. Following this release the band embarked on the ‘Brilliant Tour’ performing shows in the UK and Europe in late 2012. In November 2013, Ultravox was special guests on a four date arena tour with Simple Minds.
In 1984, Ure co-wrote the Band Aid hit, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” with Bob Geldof. Ure was rehearsing with Ultravox for an episode of the Channel 4 music show The Tube when host Paula Yates handed him the phone. It was her then husband, Geldof, who proceeded, recalls Ure, “to rant on about the Michael Buerk BBC news report on the Ethiopian famine.” Geldof provided the initial lyrics, with Ure working the musical theme on a small keyboard in his kitchen. The second half was composed by Ure, with the bridging chorus only assembled in the studio when the artists had gathered. Ure has described the song as not one of the best he has ever written, commenting that “the momentum the artists gave it in the recording studio is what made it”.
At the studio recording, Ure also took on the production duties for the song. Although Trevor Horn had been approached to fulfil this role, he needed more time to fulfil other obligations than was available. Ure stepped into the breach, with Horn providing his studio, remixing the track and producing the 12″ version. Ure and Geldof jointly set up the Band Aid Trust, and he remains active as a Band Aid Trustee to this day. He also co-organised the Live Aid concert of 1985 along with Geldof and Harvey Goldsmith. Geldof and Ure have been honoured with two Ivor Novello awards for writing the song.
After working on the Band Aid project and during a hiatus from Ultravox, Ure pursued a solo career in 1985. The single, “If I Was”, was a UK number one single, and his debut album, The Gift, reached No. 2. After returning to Ultravox for what would be their final album together, the band effectively disbanded in 1987 and Ure concentrated solely on his solo career but with less success. The albums Answers to Nothing (1988) and Pure (1991) failed to make the UK top 20. If I Was, a career retrospective, was released in 1993, while in 1998 the single “Breathe” was a hit in Europe, boosted by its use in a Swatch TV ad campaign. The video was directed by Dani Jacobs.
In 2005, Ure organised Live 8 concerts with Bob Geldof with the aim of pressing G8 leaders into taking action to end world poverty. Later that year he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to music and charity. He has also received five honorary degrees in recent years. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Arts in 2005 by the University of Abertay Dundee for his artistic and charity work over the past 30 years. He was made a Doctor of Music by University of Edinburgh in 2006. In 2007, he received from the University of Paisley his third honorary doctorate, for his contribution to Scottish culture and charity work. In 2008, Glasgow Caledonian University awarded him his fourth honorary doctorate, for his musical and humanitarian achievements. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath in December 2010. Ure is an ambassador for Save the Children and in recent years he has gone back to Ethiopia and visited Sierra Leone in that capacity.
Ure continues to perform his own songs, along with popular Ultravox songs, in concerts both solo, acoustic and with a band. Ultravox briefly reformed in 2009 and undertook a successful tour (as well as appearing at the Isle of Wight 2009 Festival) to celebrate, in their own words, the “anniversary of their classic line-up”. Ure stated in a BBC interview in April 2009, “we are not trying to get our youth back, nor the hair that’s fallen off already”. Further concerts in the UK and Europe were scheduled in 2010. Ure visited the US in 2013 for a tour and did a number of concerts. His new solo album, Fragile, was released on 4 July 2014.
In 2015, his cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” was featured in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Nick Heyward is a songwriter, guitarist & vocalist. He appears when the sun comes out, writes and records music and takes lots of photographs.
His career in music began when he formed Haircut 100 in 1981 with Les Nemes on bass and Graham Jones on guitar. They were soon joined by Blair Cunningham on drums, Phil Smith on saxophone and Marc Fox on percussion. The band had four UK Top 10 singles and their debut album, Pelican West, reached no. 1 in the UK charts.
Nick’s solo career began in 1983 with his debut album North of a Miracle which reached no. 10 in the UK charts and included three UK Top 14 singles (ha!). In 1993 his single “Kite”, taken from the album, From Monday to Sunday, made no. 3 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. To date he has released 8 albums and 19 singles, six of which reached the Top 40 in the UK.
Curiosity Killed The Cat
They appeared out of nowhere, as if they were transported from a parallel universe wherein blue-eyed soul was seen as rock & roll’s salvation in the late ‘80s. Like-minded groups like Johnny Hates Jazz, Waterfront, Living in a Box, and Curiosity Killed the Cat all debuted and disappeared at the same time. Of the four, Curiosity Killed the Cat leaned more toward the teen girl population that hung “Smash Hits” posters on their bedroom walls. The band’s lightweight funk and photogenic looks rewarded them with mainstream acceptance in their native England, but America didn’t budge. Curiosity Killed the Cat was formed in 1984 by Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot (vocals), Julian Godfrey Brookhouse (guitar), Nicholas Bernard Throp (bass), Michael Drummond (drums), and Toby Anderson (keyboards). While in art school, Volpeliere-Pierrot met Throp, who was then in a post-punk group called Twilight Children with the other future members of Curiosity Killed the Cat. After inviting him to sing, Volpeliere-Pierrot became the band’s new lead singer. They recorded a track entitled “Curiosity Killed the Cat” which caught the interest of businessman Peter Rosengard, who eventually renamed the band after their song and became their manager. In 1985, Curiosity Killed the Cat was signed to Phonogram, and the group began making their first LP. However, producers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare were taken off the project, replaced by Stewart Levine; as a result, the album was delayed for nearly a year. The toe-tapping single “Misfit” was released in July 1986, but it was not successful. The band gained much attention after Andy Warhol became a fan; he even did a cameo for the “Misfit” video. In early 1987, “Down to Earth” became a Top Ten hit in the U.K. Two years later, the group shortened their appellation to Curiosity. 1992’s “Hang On in There Baby” peaked at number three on the British charts, and the band disappeared from the music scene until they joined the ‘80s nostalgia Here and Now tour in 2001
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