Mad World Meets Midge Ure 0

Am I a hopeless romantic because I love new wave? Or do I love new wave because I’m a hopeless romantic?

I’d have to say the former. I was barely of menstruating age when I found myself being wooed by new wave’s poetic lyrics, melodramatic music, and beauteous boys in puffy shirts and eyeliner. After falling head over heels for the likes of Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, and Ultravox, how could the “regular” boys at school and their scruffy sneakers ever compete?

Midge Ure was a knight in new romantic armor. Cocking one eyebrow, sucking in his cheekbones, and sporting the most immaculate mustache, the swoonsome Scot owned me the second I heard him sing, “This means nothing to me — oh, Viennaaaaaaaaaaa!” It certainly didn’t hurt that the serenade took place in the fog of dry ice.

It would be many years before I realized those lyrics literally meant nothing to him. As he recounts in Mad World: The Book — and he did again on Sunday, for all of the good people gathered at Rough Trade in Brooklyn for my Mad World Conversation With Midge Ure — at the time of this classic song’s writing, Midge had never even been to Vienna.

“I was out to dinner with my old Rich Kids manager and his wife, who was a bit pissed [inebriated],” he recalled. “She said, ‘You need to write a song like that “Vienna”.’ And I was like like, ‘What song “Vienna”?’ She said, ‘You know that Fleetwood Mac song: Vieennnnnnnaaaaa: She was singing ‘Rhiannon.’”

That was just one of the tales spun by the Midgester at our Mad World tribute to the OBE (that’s right: he’s an officer of the Order of the British Empire, as proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth). During the 90-minute Q&A, he also reminisced about his new romantic anthem “Fade to Grey,” resurrecting Ultravox after John Foxx’s and Robin Simon’s sudden departures left it with barely a pulse, and co-organizing Band Aid and Live Aid, as well as his excellent new album, Fragile.

In this video clip, Midge talks about his participation in the recently wrapped Retro Futura Tour, which also included Thompson Twin Tom Bailey’s triumphant return to the stage following a 27-year absence, along with sets by Howard Jones, China Crisis, and Katrina and the Waves singer Katrina Leskenich:

Thanks to Midge for all the beautiful and hopeful music he’s contributed to the soundtrack of our lives — and for our favorite DJ, The Big PA, for spinning an excellent set of it (see below, or follow the Spotify playlist here). Thanks also to Rough Trade for their continued support of Mad World, and to everyone who came out!


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Come Celebrate Record Store Day with Us at Record Runner NYC 0

Click to make invite larger!

Click to make invite larger!

I was thumbing through the pages of Star Hits, when an ad for a record store changed my life forever. This was no ordinary record store, mind you. There, in the company of Bold Type and many a splashy color pic of my favorite music stars, I had found my Mecca: A paradise that sold imported UK 12″ records and Japanese posters and so, so, so much more.

When I finally found my way to the shop on Jones St. in Greenwich Village, the first thing I saw upon entering was a huge Duran Duran promo poster for Notorious…signed by JOHN TAYLOR! He had been to Record Runner! The very same store in which I was standing!

Over the next few years, I came to know the owner, John Pita (who, curiously, is one of the world’s biggest Bruce Springsteen fans); the guy who worked the register, Charlie Charas; the guy who put together international mailings in the back room, Brian Greenspan; and the hot-as-hell dude who looked after the store on the weekends — the one with the Morrissey-like quiff: Donald Kruck.

Donald eventually became my first boyfriend (and he bestowed upon me gift after gift of rare Duran items, such as a foil poster of John Taylor that he found on a record-buying excursion to Japan). Today, Brian is one of my most loyal friends (he transcribed my interview with Mags from A-ha for Mad World). Charlie, an incredible photographer who never misses a new wave-centric gig, lent us two beautiful shots for the book (that’s his shirtless Adam Ant and almost-shirtless Gary Numan).

And as for John Pita: Well, all these years later, he still owns and operates Record Runner. So many of the record shops in New York City have shut down, but John has weathered the low times, outlasting the likes of Tower Records and the Virgin Megastore, along with, sadly, so many of the other independently-run shops.

So, this Record Store Day, Mad World salutes John and Record Runner. My co-author, Jonathan Bernstein, and I are having our very first book signing at this very special shop on Jones Street, where that Notorious poster signed by Mr. Taylor still hangs, along with lots of other cool memorabilia. Over the years, Johnny Marr’s stopped by, as has Boy George and the cast of Lewlyn Davis, who filmed outside the shop. (RR is on the same street where Bob Dylan was photographed for one of his most famous album covers.) And John Taylor even had a signing there once for one of his solo records.

Come support John and Record Runner, and meet Jonathan Bernstein and me, while some new wave tunes from the book play in the background. We’ll have Mad World promo pins on hand as well!

Here are the details:

DAY: Sat. April 19

TIME: 4 to 6 p.m.

PLACE: Record Runner, Jones St., Manhattan

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It’s A Book! 0


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