BELFAST ODESSY ARENA 6TH DECEMBER 2008
Muze, 7th December 2008 (UK)
The highly anticipated Simple Minds ’30 Years Live’ tour climaxed last night in Belfast’s Odyssey arena. Although it wasn’t billed as a double headliner tour having Deacon Blue as the special guests made it a very special night for all. In one of the first gigs I have seen that the hall has been filled prior to the support it promised to be a night to remember.
It is not quite 30 years for Deacon Blue. The band haven’t been around as long as Simple Minds having been formed by Ricky Ross in 1985. Since then Deacon Blue have racked up a string of hit releases including ‘Chocolate Girl’ and ‘Fergus Sings the Blues’. We first saw the band live in Belfast’s Ulster Hall in 1994 and it was a gig that sticks in my mind for not only the brilliant musical performance but also the entertaining musings from lead singer Ricky Ross.
The band split later that year but performed a number of reunion gigs in the late 90s while Ricky’s solo career flourished. In 1999 the band officially reformed, on what I think is fair to describe as a part time basis releasing ‘Homesick’ and ‘Singles’. They quickly demonstrated their performance was set to be better than ever, and it was! It is not often the first band on stage can enthuse and whip up an audience frenzy, generally they play to half empty venues and barely gain the attention of those who are there. Deacon Blue were a very different affair, from the outset they had the audience gripped. I actually got the impression there were people around us had bought tickets on the back of knowing Deacon Blue were playing. No one was disappointed.
The performance was spectacular, Deacon Blue didn’t have the elaborate lighting rig of Simple Minds but this band didn’t need it. The audience were on their feet for the majority of the performance and visibly erupted at classics such as ‘When will you (make my phone ring)’. Ross described ‘Fergus Sings the Blues’ and the second Scottish National Anthem and he was as funny as ever complimenting the Belfast crowd and then quipping ‘If you believe this sort of bullshit you are in for a great night’ Deacon Blue were flawless in my mind, it was audible time travel it is over fourteen years since I first heard the band live they are every bit as good, if not better than how I remember the Ulster Hall.
The set climaxed with ‘Dignity’ and I wish they could have played for longer. If the night had ended here few would have been disappointed. Lets hope Deacon Blue are back in Belfast soon headlining their own show !! There was now a buzz of energy from the audience. Everyone waited with anticipation of how Simple Minds were ever going to match the performance of their special guests. It was clear Simple Minds were going to up the anti the second they took to the stage with one of the most spectacular light shows we have seen in the Odyssey. Not the pyrotechnic explosions of Nickelback but a well executed, visually stunning light show.
Simple Minds were formed back in 1978 at a time when many of audience, if they were born at all were in primary school. That said Jim Kerr appeared remarkably youthful. In fact the members of both bands appear to have aged better than I have! Kicking off with a brilliant performance of ‘Waterfront’ the energy didn’t ebb for a second during the full set. Unlike other bands of late there was a great level of audience interaction. A local hotel received a bit of a dig for not having Mars Bars in the mini bar and Jim Kerr congratulated the brilliant St George’s Market proclaiming “I could live there!”
The audience were treated to all the greats, Ghost Dancing one of the first songs I ever played on guitar was injected with an audience lead chorus of Gloria. Charlie Burchill, (who I kind of think looks a little like Jim Rockford ?) was mesmerising on guitar. His remarkable performance looked almost effortless. I have always associated Charlie’s style with that of the Edge but a bit more of a rock edge with breathtaking guitar solos not so often seen with U2. The attractive red Gretsch that appeared on stage was the envy of every guitarist there. The audience were just as loud in their reactions at the end of each song as the band themselves. The atmosphere was electric, and unlike some gigs, not a single pint of beer thrown. The entire event was quite an experience, it is hard to think of a band who are going to match the enjoyment of this double headline event.
Belfast marked the last night in the 30 Years live tour. Simple Minds have had only two nights off since 27th November and despite this they still excelled on the last night of the tour. Nearly four hours of solid music climaxed with an encore featuring an obvious version Belfast Child. Music has changed so much during the 30 years spanning Simple Minds career and in many ways bands of this standard are becoming less common. Simple Minds and Deacon Blue represent a golden era in music and the gig was payed credit to this. I really don’t think anyone in the audience of even those on stage for that matter really wanted the night to end. I have a feeling I will be talking about this show for many years to come!
GLASGOW SECC 4TH DECEMBER 2008
King Creosote, 15th December 2008 (UK)
The band is Glasgow’s own Simple Minds. The album they’re playing live tonight is the seminal New Gold Dream. The King is Creosote, and he’s in the crowd. I was once a huge Simple Minds fan. When I first heard them on TOTP playing Promised You a Miracle, I tittered “daft band name”, but after hearing Glittering Prize some months later, I went straight out to buy New Gold Dream on tape. I loved it, daft band tittered or not. I bought all their 12″ singles that a dishwashing job could afford, and much too excited to sleep I managed first in line to buy Sparkle In The Rain on its day of release (‘sokay tho’ –
I soon caught up on the Zs during side two). Don’t You Forget About Me became our sixth year high school swansong, In Trance As Mission got me off the accordion and onto the electric bass and thus into my first band, and Alive and Kicking brought a welcome spark to my dark days in Pollock Halls. By the time of their Ibrox show in ’86, however, I was equally keen to hear support act Lloyd Cole. Once Upon a Time and the follow up Street Fighting Years I was ruefully happy to sell at a car boot sale in 1993 for a quid each. We’d fallen out, the Minds and I.
This past year, however, I’ve been digging out those early Minds 12″ singles to deejay with, and in September there, with a customised hits collection on my ipod, I was tramping across the singing sands on the island of Eigg urging all and sundry to look out beyond the white horses to Rhum with Waterfront blasting from my headphones into their ears. Reconciliatory job done and we’re wary friends again. Tonight it’s Waterfront that gallops off the starting blocks and into the packed stalls of the SECC, and lordy does it sound immense! I Travel, Love Song and The American form a triple barrage of authentic and instantly recognisable bassline hooks, battering-ram drums and anthemic synths,
while New Gold Dream is played in its entirety like it was recorded just last month. Jim Kerr sings like he hasn’t had a night off in 30 years, Charlie Burchill hits some wild jazz notes every 30 or so bars, and did someone hit the transpose key? Who cares! They’re all grinning and we’re all grinning, waving arms, up on chairs and dancing in the aisles. The older songs sound as fresh and urgent as they did back in the day, and the newer ones sound far better than I remember them. It feels somewhat churlish to deduct a star for Mel Gaynor’s cover of Chelsea Girl when Speed Your Love to Me is what the set needed, but after two hours of belting out ‘hit hit hit hidits’ and ‘la la-la-la las’, I am back to being a huge Simple Minds fan. Hoarse though.
GLASGOW SECC 4TH DECEMBER 2008
David Pollock , The Scotsman – 6th December 2008 (UK)
This show couldn’t have worked so well anywhere else but Glasgow. Jim Kerr noted as much when he recalled telling the band before this tour even started that “Glasgow will be the one”, although he had to make deferential noises about Edinburgh given that Simple Minds have just announced a show at the Castle next summer.
Touring in celebration of their 30th year of live performance, the band rolled through a definitive greatest-hits set which also included a full, front-to-back performance of their most critically acclaimed album, 1982’s New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84). Although only a third of the album (Someone, Somewhere in Summertime, Promised You a Miracle and Glittering Prize) will have felt familiar to the casual fan, hearing it in its squalling, vaguely post-punk entirety was a reminder of just how important and credible a band Simple Minds seemed at the time, and of how their best work deserves to endure.
Of course, the following years have brought highs and lows, from the effortless stadium pop excellence of Sanctify Yourself and Don’t You (Forget About Me), to the laboured pomposity of Belfast Child and Ghost Dancing. Far more than a nostalgia trip, this felt like ten thousand people celebrating music which has truly meant something to them all their lives.
METRO RADIO ARENA, NEWCASTLE 3RD DECEMBER 2008
Callum Kidd, Evening Chronicle – 4th December 2008 (UK)
Being in the 40 to 50-year-old bracket is not a bad age to be music wise! Those of us who benefit from this ‘experience’ remember the halcyon days of the 80s as if it were just around the corner. Legendary 80s group Simple Minds returned to Newcastle last night playing to a packed Arena of predominantly 40-plus-year-olds, everyone of whom stood for the two-and-a-half hour set at this “30 years in the business” tour.
Wow, what a night, and how refreshing to be among an audience all of my own age rocking, singing, reminiscing! Jim Kerr, the Glaswegian lead singer, didn’t need much effort to connect with his audience as the band played the whole of the seminal New Gold Dream album along with their vast array of hits over the years. With few words he had us ‘there’ from the moment he opened with Waterfront to the Celtic overtones of Belfast Child (from 1989’s Street Fighting Years) which announced the “end” of the gig (the few who left the Arena early thinking they could get a head start on the car park missed a truly awesome return to stage for the encore, including Sanctify Yourself).
What makes Simple Minds such a creative and energetic force all these years later? Well Jim Kerr’s stage presence, the band’s connectivity with the audience, the fabulously simple set – lights, music and of course those instrumental, long acoustic overtones encouraging us all to relive our own Simple Minds journey! Kerr may sing Don’t You Forget About Me – but there’s little fear of that. Simple Minds? More like Simply Mindblowing.
CARDIFF INTERNATIONAL ARENA 2ND DECEMBER 2008
Tony Woolway, South Wales Echo – 4th December 2008 (UK)
If there was a value-for-money award in these tight economic times then Simple Minds and Deacon Blue should win it. Two of the biggest hitters of the ’80s combined for a nostalgic treat – and for the price of a single ticket – with a superb evening of contrasts. Deacon Blue had a succession of chart hits at their disposal but they also produced arguably one of the decade’s best and most under-rated albums in Raintown; a must for anyone’s CD collection.
Opening with that album’s title track, Ricky Ross and Co’s understated Celtic soul provided an excellent contrast to the powerful stadium-honed rock of Simple Minds, their charms best illustrated when the wonderful When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring) segued beautifully into a cover of Paul McCartney’s My Love. With the feel-good vibe already set headliners Simple Minds strode on to the unmistakable bass-intro of Waterfront which quickly got the crowd on their feet and they stayed there for the entire two-hour set.
Leaning heavily on keyboards and synthesizers, Charlie Burchill’s guitar struggled to cut through the mix initially, but the situation was quickly resolved as he competed with the powerful drumming of Mel Gaynor, a loud and very prominent feature. Behind them, a stunning light show raged and silhouetted against it at the front of the stage was the charismatic Jim Kerr, a man in fine form. Together they combined for impressive versions of Promised You A Miracle, Up On The Catwalk and crowd favourite Don’t You Forget About Me. Simple Minds are celebrating 30 years in the business and have a new album due in early 2009. On this kind of form, producing a memorable evening, it should be eagerly anticipated. They are very much Alive And Kicking.
SHEFFIELD ARENA 1ST DECEMBER 2008
David Dunn , The Star – 2nd December 2008 (UK)
It’s a fine line between nostalgia and validity in a word obsessed with the next big thing. Singer Jim Kerr would argue his band are very attached to the latter but it was for the former that parts of a larger than expected crowd turned out to catch the Scots’ return in classic formation, fuelled by their 30th anniversary with the focus on New Gold Dream, arguably their defining album. The Minds almost set that up for a fall by belting out some of their biggest hits before it – the whopper Waterfront opening a show that swiftly reeled off Speed Your Love To Me and the heavily dated by context Mandela Day before the pop with wilfully stylistic twists and turns arrived.
With the bounding brilliance of Love Song came a reference to one of Kerr’s earliest such gigs at West Street’s old Limit club. The American further compounded the potency of that era when the band was evolving from new wave to embrace electro aspects marked by such songs as Ghost Dancing and the U2 wannabe See The Lights. While aspects of New Gold Dream remain crucially of their time but somehow timeless the inexplicably popular Belfast Child sounds dated (and still terrible). To slip into that from the massive Don’t You Forget About Me confirmed nothing if not SM’s versatility.
LONDON WEMBLEY ARENA 29TH NOVEMBER 2008
Steven Hurst , 5th December 2008 (UK)
As the end track of the ‘Once Upon a Time’ album suggests – ‘Come Along Way.’ Listening to the wide spread of music that is played tonight you’d be inclined to agree. 31 years together, and this the 30th anniversary of playing live – Simple Minds have collected together a vast array of easily identifiable tunes from the very late 70s to present day. The majority of the hits may come from the 80’s but that should by no means play down the changes the band went through in the years that followed. Both singles played tonight from the ‘Good News From the Next World’ album (Hypnotized & She’s a River) are both instantly recognizable and come with riffs that are almost iconic.
With Scot fellows Deacon Blue serving up more than enough warmth and vibe to get the crowd ready performing some of their own identifiable tracks, Simple Minds come to the stage full of vigor. Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill in particular soak up the atmosphere instantly and for the first few songs play to an adoring crowd (Not to mention a large group of press in the pit at the front). Kerr makes it perfectly clear that he is not shy about posing, and is here to entertain. Although there is a new album – tonight is to service the past accomplishments. And starting off in bombastic style with ‘Waterfront’ is an apt way to begin.
Throughout the evening the band find time to visit the entire ‘New Gold Dream 81, 82, 83, 84” album. Burchill excels himself throughout the night and puts great emphasis on some of the albums B-Sides. ‘Somebody Up There Likes You,’ the instrumental number from NGD is a pure highlight. But its moments like these that define Burchill as what he is, a truly great guitarist and showman. Kerr handles himself very well for the first half of the show, perhaps finding some of the lesser played numbers harder to keep momentum with later on. But when they reach the crescendo tune ‘Belfast Child’ he picks up again. He comes back even stronger after the short break to perform ‘She’s a River,’ ‘Sanctified’ and finally ‘Alive and Kicking.’
Although there were beats maybe missed (The last two tunes were the only stops off in the ‘Once Upon a Time Album’ and the ‘Real Life’ album didn’t get much of a look in) the show still lasted two hours and was brimmed with energy and even the odd delight (Like when drummer Mel Gaynor took over vocals on a song, giving Kerr a run for his money). But with them all pushing 50, it’s great to see that they can kick many of today’s acts off a stage with ease.
BIRMINGHAM NEC 28TH NOVEMBER 2008
Rob Tanner,1st December 2008 (UK)
Simple Minds were one of the iconic and important bands of the 1980s with such anthems as Alive and Kicking, Don’t You (Forget About Me) and their only number one Belfast Child. But they struggled to recapture those heights during the 1990s and after the turn of the Millennium. However, judging from the ageing but enthusiastic crowd at the NEC, they haven’t been forgotten and from the moment the unmistakable intro to ‘Waterfront’ kicked off the show and lead singer Jim Kerr bounced onto stage, memories of their sell-out stadium tours came flooding back.
The Birmingham show was one of six special concerts designed to celebrate the band’s 30 years in music ahead of the release of a new album in the new year. It’s difficult to understand why Kerr and Co had not enjoyed the lengthy success of U2. Although centred around the album Kerr believes was one of their most important, New Gold Dream, hits such as Promised You A Miracle, Someone and Mandela Day delighted the crowd. ‘Don’t you forget about me’ Kerr crooned, and the Birmingham crowd certainly hadn’t.
BIRMINGHAM NEC 28TH NOVEMBER 2008
Winning Formula Is Simple
29th November 2008 (UK)
It may have been 30 years since they first got together, but Simple Minds are still very much Alive and Kicking. The Scottish rockers brought their 30th anniversary tour to the West Midlands last night and whipped the crowd into a frenzy from start to finish. It was a trip down memory lane for all things 80s and all things north of the border as fellow Glaswegians, Deacon Blue, provided a fantastic warm-up to the main event, delivering such classics as Real Gone Kid and Dignity. When it was time for Jim Kerr and Co to take centre stage, the enthusiastic audience did not need telling to get out of their seats.
The band opened with Waterfront and then took the crowd on a musical journey spanning the past three decades. They played all the tracks from their early 80s album New Gold Dream as well as uptempo classics Up on the Catwalk, Don’t You (Forget About Me) and All The Things She Said. Kerr, who is approaching his 50th birthday, gave a sterling performance as he bounced across the stage like a 20-something. And when he stood still, for probably the first time all night, it was to deliver an amazing heartfelt vocal performance of Belfast Child. They closed the show with a track which can be interpreted as a defiant statement from a band that has been producing hits for 30 years and still going strong – Alive and Kicking.
MANCHESTER ARENA 27TH NOVEMBER 2008
Dave Simpson, The Guardian – 1st December 2008 (UK)
Simple Minds’ fanbase divides into two camps: the purists (including dance acts and Manic Street Preachers) in awe of the electro-rock the band pioneered between 1979-82, and those who down five pints of lager and wobble around during Alive and Kicking. After being ignored in recent years, the purists are getting their reward on this 30th anniversary tour. Following the opener, Waterfront, the arena is turned into an underground club with 1981’s pulsating Love Song, then, from 1979, Factory and Chelsea Girl, their rarely heard debut single.
At least purists and wobblers alike can agree that 1982’s New Gold Dream album is a shimmering masterpiece, as tonight it is performed in its entirety for the first time. Someone, Somewhere in Summertime is a waltz through a mythical August haze. Promised You a Miracle and Glittering Prize are showcases of early-1980s optimism (“everything is possible”), now with a wistful edge. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) in some ways invented rave, while a terrific Big Sleep is all minimal electronic pulses and cries of: “We were only young.” Even frontman Jim Kerr, so often a stadium ham, seems humbled, as if trying to figure out how these electroscapes, which reflected Europe’s rebirth after totalitarianism, somehow gave way to Sanctify Yourself, their 1986 hit. And yet, once the album is over, the magic fades, as happened in their career. As fists begin to pump the air for Don’t You (Forget About Me), the wobblers start wobbling.
SIMPLE MINDS ROCK ON AFTER 30 GREAT YEARS
– 21st July 2008 (UK)
Simple Minds head out on the road later this year to celebrate their 30th anniversary, including a gig at Birmingham’s NEC Arena. But while singer Jim Kerr can look back on massive gigs in front of tens of thousands of fans, it’s some of the smaller venues from the early days that stick in his mind. “Live Aid, the Mandela concert, they stand out but sometimes the best ones were the backwoods of wherever, where you just got a feeling that ‘This is happening’,” he says with his Glaswegian burr.
“I remember playing JB’s in Dudley in 1979. I remember the first time coming to the Odeon in Birmingham, supporting Magazine, and thinking ‘It’s a huge venue’, and then the Wolverhampton uni gigs.” The early years were notable for an experimental, electronic style, with Kerr referencing influences such as Lou Reed, Roxy Music and Peter Gabriel. “I think we still have our roots tied to that,” he says. He also mentions the influence of “Boy”. At first I’m confused and think he is referring to the 1980 debut album from U2.
In fact it’s the only time during our conversation that his Scottish accent wrong-foots me… he is actually referring to one “David Boy”, creator of 70s classics such as The Jean Jeanie, Ziggy Stardust and Life on Mars! Simple Minds’ appearance at Birmingham NEC on Friday, November 28, will see them performing their breakthrough album New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) in its entirety, as well as a collection of their greatest hits and some rarely-played earlier songs. New Gold Dream, which Kerr has described as the band’s most creative album, featured the hit singles Promised You A Miracle, Glittering Prize and Someone, Somewhere in Summertime.
The group went on to score a string of top 20 hits, including Don’t You (Forget About Me), Alive And Kicking, She’s A River and their only UK number one, Belfast Child. With 15 studio albums (including five number ones) under their belts, and a new one on the way, it’s a good time for Simple Minds to look back at an extensive body of work. Kerr says: “We’ll be taking a trip through everything, something from every period. It’s always a tricky one keeping the different types of fans happy and including the obvious ones and the ones they’re expecting to hear.”
When asked about Simple Minds’ place in music history, he replies: “It’s a wee bit overwhelming. We’re just happy to have made music for 30 years, I’m really delighted with that. “First and foremost we’ve always seen ourselves as a live band. Crucial to a great live performance is energy. “Great live bands have that added energy, not just jumping around, but something more.