Ultravox @ Admiralspalast, Berlin, Germany, 26th April 2010
by Jus Forrest
By the time ULTRAVOX hit Berlin, their "Return to Eden 2" tour is well underway and graciously polished, despite one temperamental volcano that appears to be throwing a greasy spanner in the works for the many international fans attempting any form of travel.
Germany once witnessed chaotic celebrations all over the country as it saw the political fall of the Berlin Wall. Tonight we commemorate the removal of the barriers ULTRAVOX once created for themselves, way back when the band split and members went their separate ways - all well over twenty years ago.
The delayed swirl of guitar sounds initiate "New Europeans," a new addition, and surefire route to a show doused with the kind of musical panache that only age, mastery and experience could deliver.
The eerie presence of that magical "Vienna" album is captured instantly , just in this one opening song. The piano crescendo towards the end is so powerful it bounces off the walls, filling this rather grand theater with a rich, penetrating sound. What a welcome.
Chris's continuous warm smiles and huge grins are hard to miss during "Passing Strangers" - he radiates a real sense of warmth, gratification and enjoyment, and not only that, he's the glue which binds the bands energy into a neat ball of unrivaled master class.
"Mr X" sees the stage bathed in an atmospheric rich hue of electric blue lighting, summoning Warren to deliver his showpiece. The sound in here tonight is the best I've heard all tour, particularly evident now - the song's pulse proving more strong and persistent than previous outings. Billy's first violin solo of the evening hits the spot. Strangely creepy and invigorating, it's screaming out with an immense clarity, a moment at which the audience throw in a welcome cheer of appreciation, it would be rude not to.
"Visions in Blue" is sensitive and powerful, both in the musical sense and vocally. Midge's vocal and Billy's piano combining to provide some intense spine tingling moments.
"Thin Wall" offers a striking blend of funk-tastic rock, met with sophisticated classical interaction, wrapped up along side the innovative electronics. The catchy keyboard melody is what's really holding this song. There's also an exotic dark side as Midge employs additional improvisation on guitar; the eerie blend of notes provide intimate contrast just before Billy's sharp violin solo kicks in, cementing what is always one of the greatest live moments on any ULTRAVOX set.
"I Remember (death in the afternoon)" is and additional take off "Rage in Eden;" more funk driven guitar built to massive climax and embellished with super sensitive piano melodies.
The stage suddenly becomes smothered with a blanket of dark grey mist, while moments later the legendary "tink" ignites the torch paper that becomes the symphonic instrumental, "Astradyne." Mainly showcasing the talents of Billy Currie, not only is there a beautiful rhythmic flow of tuneful piano lines, the slightly different bowing gesture makes the violin solo quite bold and edgy before he's back into his solo piano spot, pushing out the notes w ith immense power, promptly swapping to intricate melody, all before he takes seconds to resolve a slight technical hitch upon diving into that renown synth solo hot spot.
"Lament" calms things a little; we're held by its gentle chimes while backing chords sweep everything along. "Here we go," announces Midge before he's belting out the full on vocal harmonies during the outro.
The phenomenal energy of the band right now creates an equal intensity out in the audience, now dancing in the aisles and singing along to "Hymm." Midge proudly grins in appreciation, happily allowing the audience to momentarily take over the duties.
"All Stood Still" is anything but. It's a crazily eccentric marathon which sees the guys totally engaged. Then there's the raw ingredients of Warren Cann with his percussive excellence, the binding that is Chris Cross, the sheer stage presence of Billy Currie coupled with his unique soloing moments, and lets face it, no one does it better, last but not least the incredibly rocked up guitar work of Midge Ure, plus his enduring vocal talent.
The hits arrive, think "Vienna" and "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes," and are everything you expected. The only track I don't feel quite has the bite of it's original '80's live version is the final one tonight - "The Voice" , the drive of those forceful piano chords which stabbed during the verses as I recall, seemed to have been exchanged for a more mellow trickle of notes, but right now it doesn't matter. The song powers into a grand finale of drumming extravagance from all four guys, and let's say it's nothing short of spectacular.
Rather than decaying into the mist within seconds, like the many who give the "comeback tour" a bad name, ULTRAVOX breathed a vibrant new life into every composition tonight. Precision played electro rock/pop, all dressed in an extravagant light show, complementing the intense heat from those blistering synth solos plus the sultry moments , and everything in between.
Following their tentative return last year, you thought it couldn't get any better, but 'Return to Eden 2' delivered an extended set, plus buckets more energy and volume, with plenty left to throw in the faces of those who dare to question it. Given the dramatic bursts of power witnessed tonight, it's almost as if a record couldn?t do them justice; they're a band who excels themselves live this tour, once again, goes way beyond expectation.
About The Writer
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.