On Sunday night, a small but rapt crowd gathered at the dually named Belmore/New Skyway Lounge to witness rare performances from two semi-legendary musical figures. Midge Ure, the formidable frontman of underrated '80s new romantic band Ultravox, and local provocateur Ana Voog.
Ure was in town as part of what he described as a warm-up tour for a forthcoming Ultravox reunion tour. The Scotsman was in good spirits, despite fighting off a cold. Gravelly voice notwithstanding — "I sound like Joe Cocker!" he cracked — his vocals were as buoyant as ever as he roared through a crowd-pleasing setlist of songs with his backing band. The first half of the set focused on his solo material ("Breathe," "Peace, Love & Understanding," "Call of the Wild"), while the latter part, culled from the Ultravox vault ("Vienna," "One Fine Day," "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes," "Cold Cold Heart"), got the biggest crowd response. He also performed a cover of Visage's "We Fade to Grey," which he penned — subtly making the case that Ure was one of the most unsung songwriters of the 1980s.
Opening the show (along with a DJ set from Transmission's Jake Rudh) was perhaps a local equivalent of an unsung musical hero. Ana Voog made a name for herself in the Twin Cities music scene in the late '90s, thanks to her bombastic live performances with her band the Blue Up and her ground-breaking Anacam project, a live streaming video that showed Voog at her most exhibitionistic and raw. For her first live show in a dozen years, Voog combatted a case of the nerves — "It's pretty obvious I'm nervous," she said at one point — but stayed true to form, dressed in a black corseted dress with striped arm warmers, her long, hot pink hair worn in dreads, her face decorated with bindi-like rhinestones, as she sang along to a trip-hop-esque backing track as images culled from her Anacam days flickered on a screen.
It was a show designed to stimulate all the senses, from the audio-visual barrage of looped and layered sounds that opened the show to her saging of the room with incense concluding her performance. Ever the provocateur, images projected onto the screen of a naked Voog were juxtaposed with politically-charged phrases like "nipple police" and "a pussy gave birth to you, now you will blame it for evil." But it wasn't only about button pushing; Voog proved her lyrical and vocal prowess throughout, particularly with her performance of the memorable "Please God." Following the show, Voog told us to expect future performances — despite her stage fright. "It's a lot easier being in front of the camera," she admitted.