So last night mrs andros and I went to get our 80s on: Midge Ure (Ultravox, Visage) and Paul “Every Time You Go Away” Young.
We’ve seen Midge before. He’s a brilliant songwriter, an energetic and engaging performer, shreds like a monster, and is sitting on probably 90% of his peak vocal ability–which is *fantastic *for being 63, and 90% of Midge is still head and shoulders above most other singers anywhere.
Lovely man, lovely songs, lovely set.
Then Paul Young came on.
The first song I thought to myself “he looks like he’s kinda hammered.” He was loose on stage, his bassist had to duck a bit to avoid a rock move with his mic stand, just seemed a bit off physically.
As he started singing, I winced at the first blown key. And the second. But his baritone was pretty solid once his found his notes. The chorus, however, was in considerably higher range…and I couldn’t even *hear *him at first. I thought it was the mix, or the board guy doing something weird, but after a couple choruses I realized that in order to hit the notes he had to back all the way off his volume, so he was almost whispering into his mic. And still couldn’t hit the fucking notes.
He stumbled over his mid-number banter. Not quite slurring, but again sloppy. Next number starts up, bassist has to duck again, Paul misses both the beat and the key, and mrs andros leans over and whispers “Seriously, is he drunk?” She was holding her ears trying to isolate the weirdness in the mix until she came to the same realization: that the problem was his voice. She nodded for the door and I agreed, and we…walked out of a concert.
I’ve sat through a lot of mediocre, even outright bad, music in my day. And I’ve left shows before encores, left because I wasn’t feeling well, left because it was 2:30 in the morning and I had to be at work at 7. I’ve left because I loved the opener and decided the headliner wasn’t my cuppa.
But I’ve never bailed like that: mid-song, two numbers into a set, because it was Just. Too. Painful. To. Stay.
I’m angry about it.
I’m mad that he’s not what he used to be, I’m mad that I’m not what *I *used to be, I’m mad that he sounded like shit. I’m mad that he seemed drunk, or was. I’m mad that his wife died in January. I’m mad that he got old and doesn’t seem to have the self-awareness or respect for his audiences to make the changes needed to put on a good show even *though *he’s gotten old. I’m mad that Midge Ure is a goddamn genius and that Young came off even worse in comparison.
I’m mad that for all I wish otherwise, I saw him as just another sad old man who can’t leave the past.
It’s not kind, it’s not fair, it’s not considerate, it’s not even accurate…but ghod help me, that’s what I saw.
And I *hate *that I did, and I hate more than *anything *that I’ll be there in just a few short decades myself, with my flat wrinkled ass hanging out of my threadbare boxers wondering what the hell just happened.
I’m sorry I walked out last night, Paul.
But it was just too goddamn scary to stay.