Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mark Newman and Midge Ure

Denise and I had tickets to see Midge Ure at the Paramount in Huntington back in June. We're both fans of Ultravox. However, my son's godawful school screwed us one last time on his way out the door by scheduling his graduation ceremony on the same night. And he was all, "Wahh! You're going to a concert instead of my graduation!" So we had to relent and give up our tickets. OK, I'm kidding. about the "wahh" part, but not about his school being godawful. We were going to try to go to his graduation, then sneak off to the concert afterwards, but he wanted us to go out with him and his buddies to celebrate, so we gave the tickets away to a friend. Not that I hold a grudge. Anymore than I hold a grudge about my daughter making me miss the first 15 minutes of Iron Man 3 in 2013 so I could wait with her to find her dopey boyfriend in the movie theater lobby. I'm not the kind of parent to hold these things over my children's heads for the rest of their lives. Of course I'm not. (Cough! Cough!)

In any event, I was kind of bummed, because I'm not sure how often Ure comes to the U.S., and I wasn't certain I'd have the chance to see him again. But as luck would have it, in late July or early August, I learned that not only was he coming back to the U.S. in September, he was also coming back to Long Island, to the new My Father's Place at the Roslyn Hotel. Because it was a weeknight, and because there are things going on at home that sometimes make it difficult for both of us to get out of the house at the same time, Denise decided to stay home for this one. I, on the other hand, jumped on the opportunity, and immediately bought myself a ticket. It was scheduled to be a solo acoustic show, which sounded pretty interesting.

So on Monday night, I ventured out to the new My Father's Place. As most Long Islander's know, the original My Father's Place was a historic site in Long Island music history. A small supper club in a building that used to be a bowling alley, owner Mike "Eppy" Epstein had all of the best bands there in its 15-plus years of its existence. For myself, its primary importance was that it was the first place I ever saw The Good Rats, one of my favorite groups of all time, live. (It was also the place where the Rats recorded their live album Live at Last. In fact, quite a few bands recorded live albums there, and even more had bootleg albums recorded there, with or without the bands' permissions.) After the town succeeded in closing it down (Boo! Roslyn), they tried to reopen in other locations, including a place on Bell Blvd. in Bayside (at the site of what later became The Crocodile Club), but it was never the same. A few months ago, Eppy reached a deal to create a new version of the club right near its original location, in a large room inside of what used to be the Roslyn Claremont Hotel.

I found the entrance to the parking garage on a side street, and entered what looked like a great place to hide a few bodies. Luckily, by the time I reached the third level of the garage, the Christmas-tree-style lights and seated smoking area made it clear that I had found the club.

The new My Father's Place refers to itself as a "Supper Club". All of the seats are at tables, and the way it works is that you buy the tickets, which seem to be relatively inexpensive, but you also have to purchase a minimum of $25 of food and/or drinks during your time there. Which isn't really a bad deal.

I arrived at about 6:20 for the 8PM show, so I'd be able to get a comfortable seat, and so I could eat before the show started. I was parked right outside the club, so after a couple of steps, I was led inside to a small table. I thought I'd have to try to get the end seat at one of the long tables, like they used to have in the old club. Instead, they had comfortable one- and two-person tables along the side of the club, with soft, booth-style seats. I was set up at the left side of the small stage, about eight steps away from where Midge would be playing. Not bad.

I ordered my dinner, then stepped back out of the door to hit the Men's room and see if I could find a copy of Good Times. The friendly young woman at the door directed me upstairs to the hotel lobby, where, sure enough, I found a stack of the music paper. I quickly perused the merch table back downstairs, then headed back into the club. I happily read through my Good Times while I waited for my food.

As I waited, the club started to fill up a little. I talked a little to one of the waitresses, who affirmed what I had heard outside, that the club wasn't going to sell out tonight. She told me it's hit and miss there. There hadn't been a huge crowd for Jill Sobule the night before, nor had Sophie B. Hawkins sold that well (although I heard she was terrific). But Barnaby Bye had sold the place out for three nights, and especially on weekend nights, it's often packed.

I had a tasty chicken salad for dinner. So by the time the show started, I was fed, I was comfortable, and I was happy.

The opening act was a local musician named  Mark Newman. I thought I might have seen him a number of years back in the Long Island Music Festival, but it turns out I was thinking of someone else. I don't know Mark, but a number of musicians I do know are friendly with him, including Robin Eve and Patti Morrone. (I know this because I saw it on Mark's Facebook page.) I do remember his old band, Tao Jones, from the old LIMF days, though. Mark is also a touring musician, who has toured with various national acts, including Sam Moore, Willy Deville and Sam the Sham.

I wound up seated next to another local musician, Maag, from a band called The Other Shoe, who I heard tell the waitress she was friends with Mark. It turned out she's also a friend of Robyn Eve's. At various times throughout the night, we chatted, as she caught me up a little on the local acoustic scene I've been so out of since Denise and I adopted our children.

This was one of those nights where I didn't actually see anyone I knew, but I saw a bunch of people who knew people I knew. I was seated directly behind Gwen (from WUSB) and her mom, who is a member of Denise's WLIR Facebook page. Hahn (aka, Hanzie Doodle) was also in the audience, seated in the middle of the room. Eppy was there, of course, circulating around the room, as was Larry the Duck, who did the intro for Midge Ure.

As I mentioned, Mark Newman opened the show. His music falls somewhere in the folk/Americana range, sort of what I'd call dark rural. His voice isn't gravelly, like, say, Preacher Boy. But his style reminded me of artists like Preacher Boy and Dave Isaacs.

Newman performed as a solo artist, and did a seven-song set. He has a new album coming out soon called Empirical Evidence, which I'll be keeping an eye out for. Highlights of his set included a song about Orpheus freeing Eurydice, which I thought was entitled "Until the Moon Comes", although I could be mistaken about that. (I see that he has a song called "Until the Morning Comes" on his Walls of Jericho album, so it could have been that. As it is, my handwriting is so bad that when I glanced at my notes to write this blog entry, I thought it said that the song was about orphans in Europe until I remembered he'd referenced Orpheus and Eurydice.) I also especially liked a song called "Mean Season", another about the old underground railroad that helped escaped slaves, called "Goin' Underground", and a song called "Dead Man's Shoes", all of which are on his Must Be a Pony LP.

At roughly 9PM, Midge Ure took the stage. Ure is one of these guys I could just listen to talk all night -- he has a delightful Scottish burr. He played for two full hours, performing a 24-song set (including the encore) that mixed together his solo material and Ultravox material, plus "Fade to Grey" from his Visage days, a pair of Bowie covers ("The Man Who Sold the World" and "Lady Stardust"), a Schiller cover ("Let It Rise"), and a Tom Rush cover that Ure had previously recorded, "No Regrets" (which served as his encore).

His stage personality was laid back but personable, as he gently joked with the crowd. He's been mostly touring North America for last nine months or so (much of it with Paul Young as his opener), and tonight was the very last night of the tour. (He joked that he knew what he was going to get his agent for Christmas -- "a map" -- as his travels recently took him from Vancouver to Florida to Long Island.)

My favorite part of the night was a slow acoustic version of the Ultravox song "Lament", which was so beautiful that it actually sent a chill down my back. I also enjoyed "Dancing With Tears in My Eyes", although he scared the crap out of me by suddenly going from a slow, quietly picked acoustic intro to a loud vocal in his highest range. (He explained to the crowd that if he could go back in a time machine to give his younger self one piece of advise, it would be "Don't write so many songs in your highest range, because you're going to wind up singing them for the next 35 years or so.")

I also especially enjoyed his solo hit "Dear God," a slow, somber song called "Light in Your Eyes", another solo single named "Breathe", and his Ultravox classic "Vienna". At times, he took requests from the audience, but he warned us ahead of time that he was going to have to veto certain requests, because they were too heavily synthesized to try to perform solo. (I wanted to ask for "White China", but I was pretty sure this was going to fall into that "no" category.)

Denise tells me that Ure is actually supposed to come back to the states in December, and I'd love to see him again, maybe in a full-band setting next time. Meanwhile, I'm really looking forward to bringing Denise back to this venue for a show. We were eyeing a date by Mike Peters of The Alarm in October (since that was another show that Denise had to give up because of family commitments this past summer), but it turns out we have a conflict with that date, so it will have to be something else.

In any event, it was a really enjoyable night of music. Kudos to Eppy of My Father's Place, Mark Newman and Midge Ure. Ure's setlist from the night can be found at: