Scottish singer-guitarist Midge Ure has long been known to strive for grand, orchestral sweep. Ure's show Thursday at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano could have used some more earthy qualities, such as humor or an occasional bit of basic, bash-it-out rock or quiet simplicity. But its best moments were in fact grand, and its less successful segments never sounded like bloated huffing and puffing.
With his clear, rangy voice and fervent but unpretentious delivery, Ure, who plays tonight at the Wiltern, was generally up to the task of putting across the socially conscious themes of his new album, "Answers to Nothing," or the high romanticism of songs by his former band, Ultravox. Ure's greatest asset was an expert backing band that kept the focus on rhythmic propulsion even as it was helping him pile up layers of sound. It all came together in "Hymn," an Ultravox song that rolled along like a crashing wave as Ure sang its prayer for a life of grandeur and meaning.