Ultravox UK Tours 1977 Part II

Ultravox second UK Tour
16 June -14 July 1977

On 18 June 1977, an article in Sounds announced a series of ‘club’ dates as follows, as a prelude to a full British tour in the autumn:

June 16: Marquee, London
June 17: Civic Hall, St Albans
June 18: Tiffany’s, Newcastle-under-Lyme
June 24: Penthouse, Scarborough
June 28: Tiffany’s, Shrewsbury
June 30: Marquee, London
July 01: Leeds Polytechnic
July 02: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
July 03: Castaways, Plymouth
July 04: Top Of The World, Stafford
July 14: London Marquee

A week later on 25 June 1977, the same dates appeared in NME with two amendments. The first two dates are missing, and the show at Tiffany’s in Newcastle-under-Lyme was “Tonight, Thursday” instead of 18 June, which was the previous Saturday.
There are separate adverts in both papers for the shows at the Marquee on 16 June (the venue’s archive confirms this) and at St Albans City Hall (not Civic Hall) on 17 June. Support band Clemen Pull could not remember the date, but confirmed they did support Ultravox! at City Hall around this time.

Thus the archive has been amended to show a gig at Tiffany’s in Newcastle-under-Lyme on Thursday 23 June, 1977. While the itinerary and geography might not prove anything one way or the other, it does seem more logical to go with the latter of these two dates.

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The show in Plymouth on 3rd July confounds the logic: Wolverhampton (July 2) and Stafford (July 4) are only 25 miles apart, yet Ultravox! travelled a 450-mile round trip to Plymouth in between

There are two other dates on this map that have been added to the archive as ‘confirmed’ gigs thanks to articles in local and national papers, music archivists and another venue memoir. Tony Beesley’s book “Out Of Control” tells the story of the punk scene at two of Yorkshire’s most famous period venues, The Outlook in Doncaster and The Windmill in nearby Rotherham. Follow-up correspondence with him has confirmed the various dates Ultravox! played at those venues, including one supported by Bethnal on 19 May 1977. This doesn’t fit in with any listed or advertised ‘tour’ and may seem anomalous, until you consider that Ultravox! also played at Rebecca’s in Birmingham three days later, confirmed by the guys at the Birmingham Music Archive. The Outlook gig was also reviewed in Sounds on 4 June 1977, so that further confirms it was not part of this club date tour…

Minding The Gaps
So what of the three days between 24 and 28 June in Scarborough and Shrewsbury?
With nothing booked or listed, maybe it is simply that nothing happened. But one could speculate that the ‘unknown’ gigs at in Goole and Ashby-de-la-Zouch fit nicely…?
What is more likely though is that the booking at Tiffany’s in Shrewsbury confirms that the band did not play the ‘unknown’ rugby club date on this mini-tour which further points to it being on the earlier round in April.

Missing Dates…?
I have also been following up correspondence with two sources that either saw or supported Ultravox! around this time at unlisted venues, but are we unable to confirm dates. Both Langley College, Reading and Hitchin College could fit with this second round of gigs, given that Ultravox! played at least another two (above) that are not listed in adverts, but neither can be specifically accounted for at the moment.

Perhaps you can help?
Ticket stubs, diaries, personal anecdotes etc are very welcome and everything will be acknowledged and followed up.

Thanks for reading

Ultravox UK Tours 1977 Part 1

Ultravox first UK Tour
22 March -19 April 1977

Revisiting these dates again now with all that I have learned of Ultravox movements suggests that the itinerary as we know it is incomplete. This is no surprise.
The archive was initially built around dates published in NME on 26 March 1977 as follows:

March 24: Red Deer, Croydon
March 25: Marquee, London
March 26: Electric Circus, Manchester
March 28: Toby Jug, Tolworth
March 29: Railway Hotel, Putney
March 30: The Affair, Swindon
April 01: 76 Club, Dudley
April 02: Eric’s, Liverpool
April 03: Top Rank, Sheffield
April 04: Tiffany’s, Edinburgh
April 09: Priory Hotel, Scunthorpe
April 12: Top Rank, Brighton
April 13: La Fayette, Wolverhampton
April 15: Marquee, London
April 16: Rock Gardens, Middlesbrough

According to this advert, the dates were arranged by Brian Epstein’s NEMS agency, the leading booking agents of the period.

I have researched this tour (and all others by the band) for years, but until now, I have never considered them from a geographical perspective, from the point of view of plotting the shows on a simple map:

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What is interesting is the order of the shows, which don’t seem to follow any geographical logic and so must presumably have been booked according to available dates rather than with any efficient itinerary in mind? For example, they played the Marquee in London on Friday 25 March and then drove 200 miles to Manchester for a show the following evening. While this might not seem exceptional, Ultravox were than back in London for a gig in Tolworth on Monday 28th, and played at Eric’s in Liverpool three days after that…
The next few dates do make more logical sense (Swindon, Dudley, Liverpool, Sheffield, Edinburgh) although the question arises – why is there a gig ‘missing’ on Wednesday  31 March between Swindon and Dudley (Burton-on-Trent)?

Then between Monday 4th (Edinburgh) and Saturday 9th (Scunthorpe) there is a ‘gap’ of five days without a gig booking. And to close the tour, did Ultravox really travel 260 miles back up the A1 for a show in Middlesbrough?
Certainly an exhausting schedule, even with the gaps.

Minding The Gaps
While the NME listing is a starting point, I have uncovered a handful of other dates and factors that might fit in with this first tour.
In June 1981, Chris Cross listed in Smash Hits magazine Ten Gigs I Never Want To Play Again. Some of these are still unsourced, and these include:

Vikings, Goole and The Top Hat, Spennymoor
Shrewsbury Rugby Club
The Dolphins, Morecambe
Country Club, Ashby de la Zouch

It does not seem entirely unreasonable to suggest that Ultravox might have played Spennymoor and Goole on their journey from Edinburgh to Scunthorpe, between 4th and 9th April 1977. Which provides a starting point for further research, although no evidence at all of either gig has yet come to light.

From the map – assuming some application of logical travelling arrangements of course – I feel comfortable suggesting that the gig in Ashby de la Zouch is the ‘missing’ one for 31st March 1977. Chris Cross recalls that they played to one person, and not even the bar staff attended! Assuming this to be a reliable account (and there is no reason to think otherwise), then I am inclined to think this anecdote refers to an early gig. The band got very popular very quickly, so such an exclusive audience seems unlikely to be very much later in the year. It may however be equally within reason to place the Shrewsbury Rugby Club gig into this vacant date, but with even less evidence! There’s not much history of this venue at all online, so it also could be very early.

One more piece of the puzzle came to light on reading Tony Hill’s excellent memoir The Palace & The Punks which describes the “occasionally sad, but always true” story of the Grey Topper in a Nottinghamshire pit village. He mentions an Ultravox gig in the text, and then kindly sent me a copy of a page from the club’s booking diary confirming they appeared there on Tuesday 22 March 1977. Another gig listed in Chris Cross’s list of those he would rather forget, when there were more people in the fish shop opposite than at the gig. Both Cross and Tony Hill confirm this unfortunate circumstance.
The date however would suggest it to be their VERY FIRST show outside London?
How does that feel…?

Knowing the band’s preference for playing an unlisted warm-up before a tour, this appearance in the middle of nowhere in Nottinghamshire sits nicely ahead of the main sequence of dates. It does though also open up the possibility of another gig on 23rd March before the listed show in Croydon… Ashby de la Zouch on the way back?

Finally, the gigs in Croydon, Tolworth and Putney are all advertised together in NME the same issue as a above, presented by Fox Leisure. They seem fairly ‘concrete’ but of course one can never guarantee ANY of these listed shows actually went ahead other than discovering personal anecdotes or memoirs.

A speculative conclusion would be to suggest this itinerary:

March 22: Grey Topper, Jacksdale (Notts)
March 23: Country Club, Ashby de la Zouch???
March 24: Red Deer, Croydon
March 25: Marquee, London
March 26: Electric Circus, Manchester
March 27: Sunday off???
March 28: Toby Jug, Tolworth
March 29: Railway Hotel, Putney
March 30: The Affair, Swindon
March 31: Shrewsbury Rugby Club???
April 01: 76 Club, Dudley
April 02: Eric’s, Liverpool
April 03: Top Rank, Sheffield
April 04: Tiffany’s, Edinburgh
April 5/6: Top Hat, Spennymoor
April 7/8: Vikings, Goole

April 09: Priory Hotel, Scunthorpe
April 10: Sunday off???

Do The Mutation
By the 9th April, there were full page adverts in the UK press listing dates for April under the Do the Mutation headline.













April 11: Covent Garden, London (additional to the dates listed on 26 March)
April 12: Top Rank, Brighton
April 13: La Fayette, Wolverhampton
April 15: Marquee, London
April 16: Rock Gardens, Middlesbrough

Three days after the Middlesbrough gig Ultravox! played five consecutive nights in Paris and then appeared in Brussels and Holland

Can You Help?
I like to think that a lot of this speculation is educated guesswork based on known habits and parameters, but I am more than happy to be proved wrong at any point. Evidence is very hard to find. “Previous investigations shape the search for information…”
if you have read this far and can help with any of this, please do get in touch.

Thanks for reading



Ultravox – Warren Cann interview (1977)

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I recently made a transcript of this interview as part of my 40 Years of Foxx project.
It’s interesting to read the perspective of other band members.

This took a lot of work to transcribe.
LINK to this page if you make reference – please don’t copy and paste the contents

SNOT RAG (Fanzine, Vancouver BC)
No. 4 December 20, 1977

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Ultravox first came into prominence late last year, and immediately drew mixed reaction from the critics. Hailed by NME:

“If the New Wave of rock is going to produce bands a s good as ULTRAVOX, then it looks like 1977 might be as good as 1967 for modern music”

and lauded by Melody Maker’s CAROLINE COON:

“ULTRAVOX are obviously another new band who are going to make 1977 a vintage year for Rock… some very special talents are t work here.”

Their detractors accused them of being contrived, a mere imitation of ROXY MUSIC. However as 1977 comes to a close ULTRAVOX have most certainly stood the test. With two successful albums and a string of singles, they have completed highly successful tours or Europe and Britain. The band are confident about their future and have never sounded stronger. Their music is a perfect blend of complex rock and futuristic vision. Drummer WARREN CANN and bassist CHRIS CROSS provide a tight rhythm section, embellished by Billy Currie on keyboards and strengthened with STEVIE SHEARS frantic guitar work. The band provide a perfect show-case for the fragile yet devastating lyrics of their manic vocalist JOHN FOXX.
I recently had the opportunity to gain an interview from ULTRAVOX drummer WARREN CANN, (undoubtedly one of the best drummers to emerge from the New Wave). What follows is that interview in its entirety.

S.R. –    You’ve recently completed your biggest British tour ever, was it as successful as you had hoped?

W.C. –  Yes, we played all over the country and the audiences were great. They know us better now and aren’t as easily throne by some of the things we do. We’ve tried ever since we began to keep changing, to keep mutating. We’re not interested in finding a formula and flogging it to death like so many of the dinosaurs, or like a lot of the punks do for that matter.
I think that the one thing people can expect from ULTRAVOX! is constant change. We’ve just completed our first tour of Europe, that was from mid-October through to mid-November. We played in Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium and Holland. The audiences over there were great. They’re different from English audiences in that they don’t tend to go off like a rocket when you walk onstage – they sit there and really listen, then as the music goes on they get more and more involved until at the end they’re going spare.

S.R. –    I understand you weren’t too happy about the conditions under which you recorded the first album? Can you elaborate?

W.C.    What??? I don’t know where you heard that… nothing like that happened, we were really happy about it all. So would you, too, if you’d been knocking on record company doors for two years and constantly being given the elbow.
You see, in those days there was absolutely nothing happening. When we started London was like a wasteland, none of us could hear what we wanted to hear or what we felt it was necessary to hear so we just decided to do it ourselves.
It was only later on that we discovered there were a few small pockets of change happening. THE HOTRODS, THE FEELGOODS, the LONDON SS, THE STRANGLERS and what was to become The Clash, plus a lot of other people who have since surfaced, they were all on the streets then but it was just that the scene was totally underground then. The media here was still down on their knees at the feet of the DOOBIE BROS and DEEP PURPLE.
We were something the record company people hadn’t seen for a long time, a band off of the street, a band with no famous or ex-name people in it. An untested commodity that they were scared shitless of. To make out demos we had to sneak into a studio where a friend of ours worked. We’d go in on the weekend and come out just before the cleaning ladies arrived on a Monday morning. When we finally found ISLAND we were over the moon about being able to go and get our sounds down on vinyl and get them out and about. We did it in their own studio in Hammersmith. Until then it was only the second studio we’d ever been in so it didn’t make any difference to us where we did it.
All I can suggest as to why you heard we weren’t happy with it is a complaint that everybody in the world must have. Immediately after you’ve done an album you feel you could’ve done it better, if only we’d done this or that or the other thing etc. We’re learning to come to grips with that, both from having some experience in the studio now and because we really like how accidents can turn into things that give you new ideas. We’re trying to do more and more things as quickly as possible. If you take two weeks getting the toothbrush overdubs right the thing just dies in your hands. A lot of stuff on the first album was done very quickly and a lot of stuff on HA! HA! HA! was done first take. You get a rawness then that you wouldn’t get otherwise…

S.R. –    Just how big a part did ENO play in the actual production end of it?

W.C. –  When we were discussing the album with Island, they wanted to know if we wanted a producer on it or not. We were open to the idea if whoever it was was interesting and they suggested that we meet ENO. ENO was still on Island and we rather suspect that it was because they felt he was the only person that could understand what we were trying to do!
We met ENO and immediately got on with him. He has this reputation of being a very esoteric fellow clouded in mystery, but really he’s a perfectly straightforward bloke who hasn’t let his musical ideas become calcified by the trends of the music biz. He’s great. You could say that while we were in the studio together we were mutually experimenting on each other.

S.R. –    How do you feel about the new album?

W.C. –  We’re knocked out by it. We’ve got a lot more confidence in the studio now, we know what dials to pull to get whatever we want and that gives you a good backing from where you can afford to take more and more chances. I like it because I think we’ve managed to go in at least two different directions at once. It’s a lot harder than the first album and it’s a lot stranger at the same time. We’ve become more and more interested in pure noises, sounds that just rip into you and rattle around, or sounds that seduce you in other less obvious ways.
There seems to be so much rock & roll at the moment that’s only blasting out aggression and frustration. Well, that’s fine, but there are a whole lot of other emotions in the human spectrum. We’ll use the claws when we want to but we want to evoke other feelings as well: mania, passion, serenity, remorse…
The next one will be even more different, we’ve got a lot of ideas and have been thinking a lot about what we’re going to do. It’s another departure. I suppose in that respect we’re not really what you’d call marketable… but that’s what keeps us excited by what we’re doing. We’ve got a completely free hand by the record company and there’s no reason why any of us would want to keep making the same records over and over again.

S.R. –    Do you have any plans for touring the States in the near future? If so when and where?

W.C. –              We have a major British tour in January and then we’ll be over to the States. I think we’ll be going to New York first, perhaps do a few gigs on the East Coast and then go over to L. A. for a while. I don’t imagine it will be what you’d term an intensive tour because we’ll opt for presenting our own show in smaller places rather than being on the same bill as TED NUGENT. I mean, the two wouldn’t be compatible at all… We’re not well known in the States and when you’re doing those sort of concerts its nice to be playing to thousands of people at a time and all that but chances are the match between acts is just so prone craziness. I’d much rather we started playing in clubs and things where the initial audience have the chance, for both our sakes, of seeing us do our show on our own in a place where there’s a bit of contact with each other.
Offhand, I think the only band we’d be excited by the idea of touring with would be KRAFTWERK, they’re great. Plans change every five minutes. We’ve got a lot of things that we want to do, and the chances are that America and Canada might not see us until later in the year. We’ll just have to wait and see… I hope it’s soon, I think we’ll kill ‘em. The time is right for us to go. I think the States has heard so much about the punk thing, the New Wave thing and gotten it all arse backwards. There must be a hardcore element to everything, I suppose. I mean… The people that originated the punk thing here have all dropped out. They’re probably all off somewhere blowing a spliff and growing their hair. The media has woken up too. – too late of course for punk – and have flogged it to death. You see adverts for mail order punk gear! Half of the drag they’re selling now for punks the majority of people can’t even afford! It’s all dead except the shouting.
There are so many second and third rate copies of the PISTOLS and the CLASH knocking about now that it’s pathetic. It did give music a gigantic kick up the arse when it needed it, but instead of thinking and trying to get different things together, the punks have gone even more conservative than the people they wanted to oust.
We’ve been knocked a lot for the sins of using an acoustic guitar in MACHINE; for having keyboards and synthesizer in our line-up; for having a violin! Those things aren’t done!

Every now and then we sing a harmony – what fussy farts we are! I think it’s beginning to sort itself out now though, it’s going to be very interesting to see who survives the initial blast and carries on. Right now there are some great bands in London who are getting rather lost in the shuffle because they aren’t currently slotting in with the punk idiom. The singer with the BOOMTOWN RATS said “New Wave rules…and the first rule is…” Things will be turbulent, but that’s the best way for any change to get through, the boat is gonna get knocked all over the world and all I can say is “What took it so long!” Thanks SNOT RAG from ULTRAVOX!

The Belbury Circle – Outward Journeys


Ghostbox (label). The misrepresented musical history of a parallel world, via public information films, vintage synthesisers and esoteric sonic references.

Outward Journeys (album) Contemporary nostalgia. Collaboration between Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly; arrangements, notation, invitations and vision) and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle; analogue sequenced bass, public information bites) with a guest appearance by John Foxx (polymath. Metamatic; vocal and synthesizers).
Idiosyncratic characteristics. Attractive and interesting.

All contributing artists share a re-imagining of the city proposed by psychogeography – the way different places make us think and feel, an aesthetic with its roots in the Dada and Surrealist art movements which explored ways of unleashing the subconscious imagination. The Ghostbox ‘Musique Concrète’ fusion of soundtracks, instrumentation, design and theory combined with sonic and cultural references led the late Mark Fisher to describe them as pioneering “hauntologsts” – re-designers of a retro-future that looks like the past. Or is that the other way round?
Either way, they inhabit a world of ghosts and memories variously abandoned, forgotten or erased by history

John Foxx is one of the ghosts here. Both present and not present throughout the album. His vocal appears unexpectedly first on the aptly titled Forgotten Town, an urban landscape he has walked himself for forty years, mining the streets and the scenes acted out on them. He drifts in spectrally, weaving his own evocative synthlines into Jupp’s rhythms and melodies, so cleverly that You Would Not Know He Was There.
The vocals are perfectly pitched and masterfully woven into the fabric of what is otherwise an album of instrumental soundtracks. Imagined television scores reminiscent of those evolving during the Ghostbox founders’ youth. Among these, John Foxx theme to LWT’s 1980 youth magazine programme 20th Century Box, his own contribution to an evolving genre.

Cloudburst Five invokes Dankworth’s iconic score for Tomorrow’s World. 1981. Michael Rodd and Judith Hann. Raymond Lefevre’s As You Please theme to Pebble Mill At One (no commercial symbols here!)
Transports is one of the album’s standout tracks, and links cleverly into the alternative sounds emerging from the music industry during the same period. Echoes of Depeche Mode and OMD are loudest here. Then Light industry takes Belbury Circle into archive territory similar to that currently occupied by Public Service Broadcasting.
End of Side One.

The ambient recordings that set the scene for Café Kaput tick all these radiophonic boxes, and it is after this melodic, loopy dream sequence that John Foxx times his second appearance. It’s easy to overlook Trees. Many of the city’s busiest streets are populated by trees. Parks are the lungs of the urban environment. Trees see a lot of things during their lifetime, often surviving gentrification more that any other elements. They archive stories. They are living ghosts.
On Departures Int, Brooks and Jupp introduce a guitar, typical of their collaborative aesthetic. It’s just another instrument after all. Like style… Which gives this piece the feeling of both a Holiday programme theme tune and a magazine you might pick up from the lounge in Schipol or Tegel.

And just as every time we meet there’s a leaving, so every outward journey preludes a return. Heading Home is a joyous homage to all involved and all that has gone before, the essential conclusion. The rhythm of a train runs through ithe track, simulating the Trans Europe Express rushing across Magnetic Fields on its way back to Berlin airport. Closing the album like this reflects new thinking and illustrates the construct that the future is perhaps closer now than it has ever been. Popular notions and cultural trends are returning to How We Used To Do Things. In context, the re-birth of vinyl is an obvious example, and that Outward Journeys is also released in cassette format is modestly visionary. Film is cool again. Foxx is a sculptor now, working with his hands and has declared no further use for a Smartphone.

The post-digital future is close at hand. The route is marked on a folded map in that dusty drawer. Discoloured paper. Vaguely damp smell. Scrolling TV screens, slightly out of focus. Cardboard. Low definition. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

Ask your dad.

8 out of 10.