Ultravox - John Foxx

Ultravox - the John Foxx Era. Whole different wavelength.

Ultravox! – In Concert – 1979 – Past Daily Soundbooth

Ultravox - John Foxx
Ultravox – the John Foxx Era. Whole different wavelength.

Ultravox! – Live at the Hot Club, Philadelphia – February 23, 1979 – WIOQ-FM

Ultravox! In Concert during their first American tour in 1979 – This one features them at the Hot Club in Philadelphia, recorded on February 23, 1979 by WIOQ-FM.

There’s not a lot of the John Foxx era of Ultravox either in concert or in session currently available (although I see that’s changing right now). I’m glad these shows are coming to light because it casts a light of recognition on a band during, what I feel, was a much different period than how they eventually became in later years. You could say, without too much hesitation, that Ultravox was two bands – the one during the John Foxx era and the one during the Midge Ure era. Both are valid, both have fans, both have detractors.

I tend to favor the John Foxx era simply because that’s the version I first heard and became familiar with. It was a much more experimental band, due largely to the influence of Conny Plank, who shaped their early sound and made it quite distinctive – it had a harder, more industrial edge and in the late 1970s, it had enormous appeal for me. But like I said; both have fans – both have detractors.

That is not to degrade the changes the band went through during the Midge Ure period (after Foxx left). You could say the bqnd became Ultravox 2.0 – a more smoothed out/melodic/new-wave/new Romantic incarnation that became very successful and highly commercial during its tenure. It also came along at a time when Music Videos had become the staple in every musical diet and were considered mini-movies, rather than just medium close-up/close-up promo clips for the band. All those changes during those pivotal times were natural and certainly added to the popularity of Ultravox during that period.

But we’re talking about the earlier period here – the period where things were at ground-floor level; being shaped and gathered and tried out, and I must say this concert – either their first or second (definitely one of the first) appearance during their first tour is riveting and confirms my initial feelings about the band when I first heard them 40 years ago.

Whether you’re a fan of ULtravox! during this period, or didn’t become aware of them until they released Vienna which dominated MTV and the airwaves in 1980, this is a good sampler of the earlier incarnation of the band to check out. And I miss the hell out of Conny Plank.

You might want to crank this one up – the band are in high spirits and the audience is nicely ecstatic. Makes for a good combination.


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